The nomadic culture of 19th c. Medicine Shows and Chautauquas are the inspiration for this traveling exhibition and research project.
Who am I?
I come from a long line of wanderers, people uprooted and left searching for an identity -- 17th century Huguenots and 18th century indentured servants, westbound pioneers and Choctaw Indians. I am all and none of these things: an American amalgam of conflicting cultures set in restless motion 350 years ago. In 2006, I resolved to set out in search of the lost histories that clarify not only who I am, but who we are as Americans. I traveled cross-country for eight months Looking for Lost America, a research project of the Roadside Show & Tell, a trip that laid the foundation for Beautiful Possibility, my current traveling project. This solo journey takes the nomadic experience of itinerant explorers and traders and the traveling culture of Medicine and Wild West Shows as inspiration for engaging others about what it means to be American.
“Before we find a cure, we must know what ails us.”
My work posits that the root of our ailments as Americans can be found in the identities we left behind. Beautiful Possibility imagines an America unashamed to look at our past and the cultural devastation of a Eurocentric Manifest Destiny, and to imagine the multi-cultural potential that lies within us for creating a more perfect union within ourselves, as a nation and for the world.
What is this project?
Beautiful Possibility is a traveling exhibition and research project. Southern Exposure in San Francisco launched the project in April 2010. For the seven months that followed, I toured an exhibition of painted banners, a map and survey station to venues from California to the Dakotas (including parts of southern Canada), accompanying the show in a small travel trailer. As I travel I playfully assume multiple roles as explorer, historian or social scientist to engage strangers about cultural viewpoints, historic remnants and regional eccentricities.
In April 2012 the project will re-launch for the second half of the tour, my most ambitious tour to date. I will pick up where I left off in South Dakota, and resume my eastbound journey. “Go West, Young Man, and grow up with the country” was Horace Greely’s 19th century call pushing American Expansionism forward. Beautiful Possibility is a self-styled reverse migration of the Manifest Destiny credo; along the way I will be looking at the legacy of the claims made on the land and people, for good and bad.
I will visit Indian Reservations, declining industrial cities, urban cultural centers and rural utopian experiments. Pre-scheduled venues in over 10 states will exhibit my work and serve as headquarters for local investigations. My research will lie in collecting opinion surveys on Americanitis, and conducting social experiments with local participants and then journaling the process on the Beautiful Possibility website. Learn more about the venues and line up of events here.
What your pledge would mean:
A successful Kickstarter campaign would cover the minimum I need for this 10 month Tour—only $1 per mile—averaged to just $30 per day for food, fuel, and lodging.
All of my savings have been invested in the creation of new artwork and supplies for the tour. The Tour is a non-profit venture that travels from venue to venue, and will not be recouped through sales.
· REPAIRS: With only one month before my departure, unexpected repairs on my 1993 Toyota truck and 1985 trailer for 10 months of travel are depleting my reserves.
· TRANSPORTATION: This summer promises some of the highest gas prices the U.S. has ever seen. The amount I am seeking will cover the minimum amount of fuel I will need to get from venue to venue—Over 9,000 miles.
· FOOD: It would also cover the minimum for self-prepared fuel for myself—Just $20 per day.
· CAMPGROUND FEES: While each venue offers camp lodging for the duration of my exhibition and projects, I am factoring in uncovered days for exploratory journeys and travel between tour stops—Just 20 nights at a no-frills state or national park, and 16 nights at a private campground that offers Wi-Fi for website travel updates-- over 10 months.
Most importantly, your pledge means that whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or challenged, I am not alone—with your support behind me, defeat is not an option. The success of this project depends on you, the people who connect with the idea of Beautiful Possibility, and love the hope of America as an ever-evolving work in progress. As fear and divisiveness is ramped up in this election year, even a $1 pledge is an important vote of confidence for challenging these presumed assumptions. Thank you!
What pledges above the asking amount would mean:
Pledges above the minimum proposal would go directly to supporting projects in economically depressed areas that offer no budget:
· Beautiful Possibility Social: At Pine Ridge, South Dakota I will be working with a tribal elder to facilitate viewings and discussions with tribal youth. Our efforts will be doubled if we can offer food and snacks in one of the nations poorest communities.
· Human Stimulus Package: In Braddock, Pennsylvania I am working to secure a small grant to create “A Good Medicine Revue” utilizing local talents for a day-long event targeted to the greater Pittsburgh area. Without funding for offering materials and stipends, my efforts to act as a human stimulus package in this economically depressed community will fall flat.
· Crew Stipends: In Detroit, Michigan I will use my hand painted Field Office sign to set up sidewalk offices to interview and assemble a crew of citizen navigators, journalists and guides for a walking and public transportation expedition across the city. Stipends for the crew would give the incentive and commitment needed to make this a more successful project.
· Artisan Support: Commissioning unique pieces from native craftspeople from Amish quilters to Native American Artisans helps establish working relationships for collaborative work for a concluding exhibition.
How will the 2012 Tour conclude?
The result of my endeavors on the Beautiful Possibility Tours will be developed into a national exhibition that will travel on its own without me. Upon the completion of the 2012 tour I will set up a citizen’s factory to enter the data of thousands of collected Americanitis surveys to compute and compare statistics. (The act of reading and computing these surveys is an eye opening experience in itself). I will then work with a statistician to push and pull the data so I can best illustrate the findings through graphs and diagrams on large hand painted charts. Research and personal experiences from my travels will continue to be developed into a more extensive and inclusive historical banner series for the culminating traveling exhibition.
Please Tell Your Friends!
I expect this project to grow in small pledges rather than big ones--please help me get the word out to your friends and family--I'm looking for hidden interest that I can't reach. Facebook liking and Twitter tweeting helps.
Please pass on this link to the project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1569331356/the-beautiful-possibility-tour
The 2012 Tour Iron-On Patch--It can be a guiding symbol for you, too!
Your Name and Hometown painted on the Beautiful Possibilities Supporter plaque:
Framed Original Prismacolor Drawings 14" x 11" (3 drawings arranged in three rows). Check out drawings here for closer detail:
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.