Conflict, mistrust, anger - America is a divided place. We may live in one country but increasingly it feels fractured - Red State and Blue State, Republicans and Democrats, gun owners and those who want them restricted or banned. Men and women, people of different races and backgrounds and histories. Urban Coastal and Rural, the 1-percenters and everybody else, all living out our visions of rights and duties and often enough bristling with feelings of injustice.
What can anyone do? In the past year I've been going to parts of America different than what I'm used to. For me that means rural and inland areas, whether in Texas or Tennessee or rural places nearer home. I'll be doing an artists' residency in north Georgia in June, with more scheduled throughout the year in the Midwest and West.
I don't make a lot of specific plans. I've just been showing up, being available to talk and to listen. Bit by bit I'm learning about other ways of being American. This year I'll focus on rural places where my great grandparents lived- places "I" might be living today if not for some quirk of fate or a decision made by an ancestor a century ago.
What is coming out of these journeys is a series of interactions and writings along with a new body of work: Shared Spaces. Inside the frame of each sculptural relief are signs and symbols and reminders of lots of different ways of being American. Guns and pickup trucks, Goldman Sachs and CNN. Cigarettes and soft drinks and granola. It's all mixed up, finding a way to exist together in Shared Space. I'm hearing a new set of voices out there: Even if many of us never come to like each other or understand or agree with each other we still need to figure out how to live together, somehow. Following this process, and the interactions and art projects flowing out of it are my way of working on this, my way of healing.