The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Darien man’s exhibit displays love of country
Robert Carley, like so many Americans, remembers exactly where he was on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the United States, taking more than 3,000 lives in the process.
Carley was in his office in Stamford, watching the smoke billow from the Twin Towers across Long Island Sound. The Darien man said his patriotic juices began to flow and he decided to hit the road to photograph how his fellow Americans were showing their support for the Red, White and Blue.
“My aim was to document the patriotic wave that then spread across the country after 9/11,” Carley said.
Carley began taking photos of everything, from houses to trucks to mailboxes and even hot air balloons — all adorned with the Stars and Stripes.
Two decades later, Carley has 9,300 photos in his “best” file folder.
“I’d say I have taken about 50,000 flag photos over the last 20 years,” Carley said.
Carley said he has taken “thousands and thousands of miles of road trips” to hunt down interesting flag tributes. His trips have taken him from Washington state to Maine, and countless places in between. This year, he has driven to Scranton, Pa., for flag murals and Stonington for a flag painted car.
“I find the best things on the way to something else,” Carley added. “I am always surprised by the leads I get from people I meet at diners, gas stations and rest stops.”
Some of those photos are part of an exhibit, “In the Wake of 9/11: Robert Carley’s American Journey,” at Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury.
“The exhibit will mark my 20 years of photographing 9/11 inspired tributes across 45 states,” Carley added.
Carley said his exhibit is a mix of his photos of flags from across the country and his homemade flags. He also released his own book, “Liberated from the Flagpole, the Metamorphosis of the Flag Since 9/11.”
Through this process, Carley said he was inspired to create his own flags after photographing other people’s flag creations. His most recent creation was an American flag made from old face masks, which he displayed at the ballfields on Renshaw Road on July 4.
Carley’s exhibit at Mattatuck Museum will run through Sept. 12.