Saturday, February 3, 2007

Welcome to My State of America

Our native landscape lives inside of us. We grow up expecting certain flowers to bloom in a particular month. We become accustomed to the view outside our doors and the way the seasons move through the year. We can take little things for granted about the people who live near us; we understand the way community and civil life happens around us. We share common festivities, celebrations, fairs, and parades. We use nicknames and idioms and we can safely assume the people within our geographical range will understand what we are saying. For better or worse, we know our home.

The United States of America is a big country. It is impossible to describe in one all-consuming way. There are regional descriptions, state descriptions, and city descriptions. Because of these, Americans all carry assumptions about places they’ve never been. We make statements about people and places that we believe are factual even though we have no idea what we’re talking about. We presume to know our country, but can our country be fully known?

Americans all know pieces of the United States. We know our state, our city, or town, or village. Some of us have traveled through several states and have broader perspectives on what and who America is. Some of us have moved once or several times, and have gotten to know a few places more deeply. So what do we have to say when we actually know what we’re talking about?

What is your State of America?

I am an artist interested in making art about the United States of America. I would like to make one piece of art for every state. This of course, is a huge, broad project and as I began to think about how best to begin this project, I was struck with a few obvious questions. How can I begin to create objects intended to represent the 50 states when I’ve only visited a handful of them? And even if I’d spent a week in each state, how could I possibly think I had any understanding of the particularities that make every state unique? So what do you do when you have questions for an entire country in the year 2007? You blog! Welcome to My State of America. Through this blog I hope to gain real insights into honest and personal perceptions of America, or at least small pieces of it. I hope that you will take the time to share your piece with me.

What can you tell me about the place you grew up? And/or about the place you chose to move? What is the personality of your hometown? What does its geography look like? What are its people like? How about the weather? What are some “inside” understandings that differ from the “outside” perceptions? Is there a North vs. South or city vs. city or any other kind of “vs.” mentality that exists? What do you take pride in? What do you hate? Why do you choose to stay? Or why did you choose to leave?

I’m hoping to hear multiple stories about all 50 states, but I don’t know people from all 50 states, so please share this blog address freely! I’ll keep you posted as states are accounted for…

Thanks so much,