Ryan Shorosky is a southern New Jersey native who is currently based in New York City. After completing a BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in 2013 he set out to live and work full-time as a long-haul truck driver. His current body of work, Green Grow the Lilacs, aims to explore a world largely comprised of the line drawn between transparency and translucence. A place where each side lends itself to the other; where glowing neon signs welcoming weary travelers into roadside convenience are met with both familiarity and estrangement. Today we take a look at his series titled, Green Grow the Lilacs.
Green Grow the Lilacs
During 2014, I spent nearly twelve months living and working as a full-time, long-haul truck driver. I visiting every state in the country at least twice, driving nearly 500 miles a day, seven days a week, and getting to know every interstate from I-10 to I-90 to I-5 to I-95. I saw not only the country first-hand on a daily basis, but also came face to face with what comprises a world seemingly forgotten about in its necessity. A place built on temporality and convenience that never sleeps and is always on the go. An entire profession and lifestyle built around the single goal of delivering every material good we live with; everything from tractor parts that plow the fields which grow our food, to electronics that make up the infrastructure of our communications, to tooth brushes and Q-tips, bottles of shampoo and bars of soap that keep us clean. At any given time of the day, at any day of any week of any month, there is always someone hauling something.
Green Grow the Lilacs is the name of an old folk song by Tex Ritter that sings about the loneliness that accompanies heartbreak. About the parting of love and what’s left in the end when there’s no one but you. An homage to the decision made for it to be okay to be alone. I had stumbled upon this song on a vinyl at a record store in Cincinnati a few weeks after I had decided to stop driving. And within its first listen I felt as though I was finally able to take hold of this intangible ambiguity that defines so much of the world within American truck driving. From the expectations of masculinity and strength within a world largely comprised of men, to the facade of every truck stop setting, brought to life like a setting sun through the mask of an exhaust-filled air. With every passing day, every conversation had, or truck stop seen, I began to understand that even the most seemingly transparent of situations was covered over by an invisible force that appeared to, from the outside, elude the rest of the world; a spectacle of sorts. Peering into the circumstantial eyes of a truck driver was like watching tightrope walkers balancing themselves on an endless rope. Swaying from one side to other, between darkness and light, between a sunset on an empty desert road on a summer’s night and an ever-growing greyness of a northeast sky in winter, each not only dictated by the other but also defined in their coexistence. And ultimately, capturing what is defined within an elusive and profoundly misunderstood world.
To view more of Ryan’s work, please visit his website.