We will be traveling the country, exploring and documenting a key part of the American identity: the small town. With the rise of increasingly placeless places: strip malls, neverending sprawl and suburbia, these small towns have come to represent a more grounded time and place in our consciousness. Despite the idea of these towns being glorified and idealized in pop culture, the reality of life in these places is often ignored. Long since bypassed by the interstate highways and with many towns in decline or transition, this is a period of great change.
In our travels, we aim to deeply understand and document these places through photography, illustration, painting, interviews and the collection of artifacts. These will be posted regularly to our website, facebook page, instagram and youtube channel. At the conclusion of the trip, our work will become a book, illustrated with Alex's photography, and Spencer's pen illustrations and our observations and experiences.
By approaching with different mediums, we hope to capture a well rounded picture of the experiences of these places: from the views of people who live there on their lives and their own travels, to capturing the essence of a place through an image.
While we are both interested in the past, and are often struck in our travels how many "time warp" scenes we come across, our work is, and aims to be, very much of the now. This is not nostalgia, and this is not ruin. We aim to capture the narrative quality of place- how changes over time can tell a story of how, when and why a town has boomed or faced hard times. We strive to capture beauty through honesty and understanding.
Why the bus, you may ask? Why not an RV? Well, we're the type of people where if something needs to be done, we do it ourselves. With this independence at our cores, we've taken a thirdhand shuttle, gutted it out and built it into a place where we can always feel at home. The bus has become an extension of ourselves, tailored to our unique needs when we're traveling.
This truly is a labor of love for us. Your donations will allow us to share with you the things and places that fascinate us, to share with your our art and allow us to put out the book. For those who know us, even a little, you know that we are extremely passionate about what we do, and that we do it for ourselves. We would love to have the opportunity to bring you along for the ride! We're sure this is a trip you're not going to want to miss out on.
Alex has recently received her BA in Film and Photography, working on two thesis series over the last 8 months that focus on small towns, traveling extensively for one for a broad view, and for the other spending months returning to the same place to deeply understand the character of a single town. Spencer received his Masters in Architecture from Montana State University, focusing his thesis on the concept of authenticity. He is also vintage menswear historian and author of Diner Hunter.
Alex and Spencer have been on the road, searching out obscure, bypassed towns nearly every weekend for over a year, both for Alex's photo series and Spencer's searches for vintage clothes. Being able to tackle a town and really understand it takes practice and experience.
We’ve been immersed in traveling and small towns for a while now, and we’ve gotten the hang of navigating our way through them and finding the hidden things: the graffiti on the brick in an alley from the 1930s, the layered ghost signs, the company housing. Things survive in small towns that would long since have been modernized or demolished in big cities, and that’s one of the reasons we like them. There's enough left to tell you a story. There's enough for a place to have a personality all its own. Spencer's drawings and Alex's photography reflect that. We try to capture the culture of these small towns, without judgement and without interference.
Risks and challenges
There are always risks associated with travel and adventure. The bus isn't particularly old and has been given a clean bill of health by a garage specializing in shuttles, but as with any truck, we could have freak engine trouble. People have always been supportive and friendly and interested on our trips, but there's always a first time being ripped off. We could Thelma and Louise it off a cliff or find that the Alamo has no basement. In the unlikely event anything should happen, we're taking precautions to back up every photo and file, to have contingency plans for every mechanical failure, and to make sure that we take at least one day to rest every week so that we don't burn out.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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