Once Achieved, What is it Worth?
This work was first shown in its entirety as my MFA Thesis Exhibition at the Gallery of Visual Arts on the campus of the University of Montana, Missoula, MT, in 2014.
This body of work examines the contemporary social, political and physical landscape of the rural American West. My research for the past three years has been exploring the myths and misconceptions associated with this region, a region that I have called home for my entire life, and how these illusions inform, misinform, distort, taint and bastardize the cultural norms of the region. My intention is to create a factual representation of the American West, a region that has been marauded for its resources for centuries and it remains that way in the present day. The fracking boom that North Dakota is currently experiencing is no different than the gold rushes of the late 1800s in South Dakota or the copper boom that made Butte, Montana, “the richest hill on earth.” The boom and bust culture of this region is part and parcel to what it means to be a Wyomingite, a South Dakotan or a Montanan…all of which are monikers that I am personally proud to adopt, wear and identify with. My goal is to visually articulate that there is nothing majestic, glorious or heroic about this region.
At its most basic, the American West is a cash cow for the two coasts. It always has been. It always will be. And the inhabitants of the region will continue to reap the benefits and detriments of boom and bust culture. My goal is to remove the romantic façade of the West in favor of a more authentic, more accurate and more austere interpretation of the region. An interpretation built upon guilt, violence, greed, brutality, isolation and shame.
An interpretation rooted in truth.