Five hundred ninety-eight.
All of them died on Kentucky’s highways this year, and some of them are still remembered post-humously with roadside memorials. Wooden crosses usually anchor the marker; silk flowers, plastic ribbons, and painted letters embellish it and give it individuality.
These highway shrines are the subject of Phillip March Jones’ latest project, Points of Departure: Roadside Memorial Polaroids. Since 2006, Jones has been pulling off to the side of the road to take a closer look at the final resting place of people on their way somewhere. He has captured the memorials with Polaroid film, which has also faded out of existence, and now plans to showcase his collection in a book of images published by The Jargon Society.
Jones, who is the brains behind Institute 193, had this to say:
Roadside memorials mark geographical points of departure in a landscape that is generally devoid of real human interaction or activity. They are almost always built in the no man’s land bordering our country roads, interstates and highways. We pass them at 60 miles an hour, sometimes glancing back, but we are never afforded the time to actually see them. This project is ultimately about slowing down.
I wanted to capture both the place where these horrific events occurred and the resulting commemorative sculptures that are erected by friends and family. For me, these roadside memorials are evidence of some greater impulse or need to create when confronted by the inevitability of death.
If you want to thumb through the pages of Points of Departure, which is due out in January, order yours now at Kickstarter. There’s less than a month left to order, and, yes, if you order it as a Christmas gift, you’ll get a printed card stand-in to wrap up and put under the tree.