Amberg, Rob 1947-

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Amberg, Rob 1947-


Born 1947; married; children: two. Education: University of Dayton, B.S., 1969.


Home—NC. Office—Rob Amberg Photography, 600 Anderson Branch Rd., Marshall, NC 28753; fax: 828-649-2142. E-mail—[email protected]


Photographer and writer. Mars Hill College, Mars Hill, NC, instructor in photography and director of photo archives, 1976-78; freelance photographer, Asheville, NC, 1982-86; Rural Advancement Fund, Charlotte, NC, staff photographer and director of communications, 1986-88; Southern Oral History Program, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, research associate, 2000; freelance photographer, Marshall, NC, 1988—. Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University, Durham, NC, visiting instructor in photography, 2004. Exhibitions: Exhibitions include "Photographs from Sodom Laurel," Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, NC, 1977; "Tobacco, Chickens, and Junior: Glimpses of the Rural Carolinas," Spirit Square Center for the Arts, Charlotte, NC, 1992; "Simon Peter Norton, Jr.," Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art, Greensboro, NC, 1993; "While I Was Gone, since I've Been Home," Captains Bookshelf, Asheville, 1994; "Three Decades of Harvest," Blue Spiral 1, Asheville, 1997; "I-26: Corridor of Change: A Work in Progress," North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, NC, 1999; "Sodom Laurel Album," Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, 2002.


Southern Arts Federation/National Endowment for the Arts, fellow, 1987; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial fellowship, 1990; North Carolina Humanities Council awards, 1992, 1993, and 1997; Paul Taylor/Dorothea Lange prize (shared with Sam Gray), 1999, for work in documentary cultural journalism; National Endowment for the Humanities, independent scholars fellowship, 2002; Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, Western North Carolina Historical Association, 2003, for Sodom Laurel Album.


Sodom Laurel Album (companion book to author's traveling exhibition; includes music CD), University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2002.

Contributor to periodicals, including Southern Quarterly, Clearinghouse Review, Georgia Quarterly, Aperture, Southern Exposure, Audubon magazine, and the New York Times.


Rob Amberg is a North Carolina-based freelance photographer whose work and exhibitions primarily cover life and scenes in the rural parts of the Carolinas. Amberg has given lectures and presentations at several universities across the United States and held exhibitions of his work in North Carolina, New York, and even in the former Soviet Union. His awards and accolades are numerous, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Amberg's first book was also successful, having won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award from the Western North Carolina Historical Association.

Published in 2002, the Sodom Laurel Album serves as a companion book to Amberg's three-year traveling exhibition on Sodom Laurel, and even includes a CD of locals performing traditional Appalachian music. Amberg moved from Washington, DC, to Madison County, a rural area in North Carolina, in 1973, and built his life there while recording the images and lives of those around him. In particular he spent a great deal of time with noted storyteller Dellie Chandler Norton and her adopted son, Junior.

Cary Fowler, writing in Southern Cultures, read the book with "awe and astonishment," adding: "I found myself studying many of the photographs, imagining stories behind them, allowing myself to be transported through layers of emotion into the lost world they reveal. I would not have thought it possible." A contributor to Publishers Weekly called it "an exemplary example of regional documentary … [that] exhibits care and concern throughout." In Durham, North Carolina's Independent Weekly, Robert Segedy claimed that the book "approaches genius." Segedy concluded: "Rob Amberg has managed to produce an extraordinary account that speaks volumes not only about the people of Madison County, but gives us a caring and unforgettable portrait of Dellie Norton."



Amberg, Rob, Sodom Laurel Album, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2002.


Columbia Journalism Review, November-December, 1996, Christina Ianzito, "Tobacco Road," p. 39.

Independent Weekly (Durham, NC), April 30, 2003, Robert Segedy, review of Sodom Laurel Album.

Library Journal, February 1, 2003, Paula Frosch, review of Sodom Laurel Album, p. 80.

Publishers Weekly, December 16, 2002, review of Sodom Laurel Album, p. 64.

Southern Cultures, summer, 2004, Cary Fowler, review of Sodom Laurel Album, p. 106.


Musical Traditions, (November 15, 2002), Mike Yates, review of Sodom Laurel Album.

Rob Amberg Home Page, (March 19, 2007), author biography.