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Artist and Photographer Goes Online to Raise Funds for a Project 12 Years in the Making

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pittsburgh -- Photographer Matthew Conboy has turned to Kickstarter and online crowdsourcing to raise funds for his project West South West, a photographic portfolio documenting the 23 centers of population that are determined at the conclusion of every United States Census.  These “centers” have moved from east of Baltimore in 1790 to southwest of St. Louis in 2010.

Kickstarter allows for a variety of deadlines for fundraising although if the goal is not met, the funds are not released. After the first six days of the project being on Kickstarter, $1,525 (30 percent) of the funds had been raised. In addition to the project page on the Kickstarter web site, Conboy has also received pledges from Twitter and Facebook users who saw his work on those sites.

Conboy began this project in July 2001 when he photographed the 12 most westerly centers. That August, he enlisted in the National Guard and three weeks later came the Sept. 11 attacks. He proceeded to spend five years on active duty with the Army as both an enlisted soldier and commissioned officer before leaving the military in February 2013. After accepting an invitation from Fraction Magazine Editor David Bram and Gallery Owner Jennifer Schwartz to attend a photography retreat in Astoria, Oregon, Conboy decided that now was the time to finish this project.  

Conboy is an artist, photographer, and educator who lives in Pittsburgh. His works have been exhibited at the National Building Museum, the Mattress Factory Art Museum, and the Carnegie Museum of Art. He has degrees in architecture from the Catholic University of America and photography from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is now pursuing a Ph.D. at Ohio University and teaches photography at Robert Morris University.

West South West will take Conboy from Kent County, Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay through Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and finally to Texas County, Missouri, a few miles from Fort Leonard Wood. He will spend 14 days on the road as he photographs all 23 sites. To learn more about his project, please visit his Kickstarter page at:

Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.