In 1995 I moved from a high-rise condominium
apartment complex with 562 units in New Jersey to a rural town
of about 1,000 people in Texas. The condo building had more residents
than the town.
One impetus for this move was my weariness at
the unremitting ugliness in my environment. I wanted to rest my
eyes on natural beauty. I was also motivated by a need for a slower
lifestyle, for "peace and quiet." I wanted to give myself
more time to look and more felicitous things to look at.
Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th president
of the United States, described his feeling for his homeland in
the Texas Hill Country this way:
"I guess every person feels a part
of the place where he was born. He wants to go back to the surroundings
he knew as a child
And through the years, when time would
permit, here is where I would always return, to the Pedernales
River, the scenes of my childhood. Theres something different
about this country from any other part of the nation. The climate
is generally pleasant; the sun is generally bright; the air
seems to be clean; and the water is pure. The moons are a little
fuller here; the stars are a little brighter. And I dont
know how to describe the the feeling, other than I guess we
all search at times for serenity, and its serene here."
I believe that many people in America feel this
way. We are bombarded by daily visual intrusions that are not
only ugly, but also common throughout our land. Route 1 in northern
New Jersey assaults the eye in the same way that Route 30 does
in western Pennsylvania. It is the story of more of the same,
and all of it tacky. Unlike LBJ, we cannot always go home to an
unspoiled landscape to recapture that elusive serenity.
But there are still enclaves of a less visually
unwelcome time. Some can even be found in ones hometown.
There are periodic escapes from the relentlessly average, and
they are balm for the eyes.
This project explores the relationship between
the monstrous and the soothing in contemporary America. It is
both hopeful and watchful in intent. We all need to be watchful
lest the ugly multiply. We are hopeful because we are human.