Rebecca Soderholm’s project “Hare Scramble” gets a Sunday Review Op-Ed
January 2021 – Last month, The New York Times featured photographs by Drew University’s Rebecca Soderholm as an Opinion piece in Sunday Review, highlighting six years of work on her project “Hare Scramble.”
Soderholm, chair and associate professor of Drew’s art department, focuses her work on “rural America and hardscrabble landscapes and conditions.”
After stumbling upon an off-road motorcycle and four-wheeler race in the Finger Lakes region of New York, she was struck by the “movement, noise, and inherent danger” of the races and started following the New York circuit.
She began by taking videos of the races, but one (ultimately inspiring) day, she had video issues and had to resort to taking still photographs of the race.
“It made me wonder what would happen if I eliminated sound, color, and movement, the very things that make the races so distinct,” Soderholm said.
“Paradoxically, I found that I could say more. I began to photograph national races in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Indiana.”
Last year, Soderholm was contacted by a photo editor at the Times familiar with her work and asked to submit “Hare Scramble” for consideration.
In a section typically reserved for essays, the Times included 16 photos from the collection as a visual op-ed in addition to Soderholm’s writing.
“The best part about publishing in the Times has been receiving thoughtful emails from around the country,” she said.
“There were ideas that didn’t fit into the text that have come back to me as the words and sentiments of strangers. For example, a reader in Montana wrote, ‘If I were thinking metaphor, this activity undoubtedly reflects the challenges these folk have to overcome on a daily basis in ordinary life.’”
The response has allowed Soderholm to reflect on one of the key lessons she imparts on Drew students in the classroom as well.
“In many areas of Drew’s curriculum, professors encourage students to take the time and attention to ‘read’ visual images. That so many people have been drawn to look closely at these pictures and reflect on their own experiences is a huge win.”
To see more of Soderholm’s work, including more “Hare Scramble” photos, follow her on Instagram at @rebeccasoderholm.