Perhaps you may be familiar with your state motto or state bird. However, what about your state amphibian or state grain? America’s fifty states have many official state insignia, some more obscure than others. Artist and designer Julian Montague highlights many of these for all of the states in the union in his new series State of America. While some state insignia may be predictable – Idaho’s official state food is the potato – others are bit stranger such as Georgia’s official state fossil: shark teeth.
Mustafah Abdulaziz’ Memory Loss is a series of photographs captured throughout the United States. His photographs vary widely in content from landscapes to individual portraits to candid groups. They each in some way, though, seem to portray a disarmingly frank American identity. Among other photographs in the series, Abdulaziz groups together an image of little girls returning from a princess tea party with a gathering of tribal elders on an Indian reservation. Indeed, his statement explains that his work “explores social identification and how our ideas of self representation create instances of cultural disconnect.” In 2010 Abdulaziz became the Wall Street Journal’s first contract photographer and in 2012 he was named one of PDN’s New and Emerging Artists to Watch.
Ryuta Iida is a Japanese artist who cuts out thick volumes of paper [i.e. magazines and books] to form sculptural objects. I had only seen this done once before by the artist Tim Hawkinson at his solo LACMA exhibit in 2005 and it has boggled me ever since. So, I was thrilled to find out about Ryuta, who is picking up where Hawkinson left off and doing it in their own way. Whereas instead of taking personal photos of themselves to cut into, Ryuta uses popular magazines, thus adding an element of pop culture to their practice. (via)
Rony Alwin is oftentimes associated with his company Rony’s Photobooth, which sets up photo stations at parties all across the world. However, he somewhat secretly has been taking incredible and iconic pictures of uniquely American still-lifes and landscapes all along, which he encounters while road tripping across the States. His crisp and clean photos of American Flags and abandoned typewriters tell unspoken stories that really pull you in and allow you to create your own narratives around them. I, for one, was totally blown away when I stumbled across these on his personal website and can’t wait for him to release some prints. I mean, yes, his other sites are always exciting to check out, but this set of photos mark a maturity that really showcases his talent and eye for the interesting.
Shannon Richardson‘s photographs have a “presented without comment” feel to them, documenting the signage and structures of American countryside with the intent to preserve. In addition to the observational and timeless sights of Texas, Richardson’s book, Route 66 American Icon, is a compilation of scenes from along the historic Route 66 highway.Richardson is an Amarillo, Texas-based photographer.
Photographer Marshall Scheuttle travels across the country, bringing his lens to bear on our nation’s cultural patchwork. In his work, desolate landscapes are occasionally dotted with a baptism or bolo tie, a snake charmer or carnival worker. It is a world that is lonely, powerful, surreal, and distinctly American.
Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond, West Virginia 2004
Massachusetts-born photographer Mitch Epstein has been documenting life in America since the early 1970s. As Rachel Esner says, “much of Mitch Epstein’s work is…a reflection on America, on American values and ideology, on America’s place in the world today. It is the formal and associative elements in Epstein’s images that lift them to a higher plane. These are not documents in the strict sense, because they transcend and reinvent the objects photographed and in the process invest them with symbolic meaning.” Well said, Ms. Esner.
San Francisco-based photographer has a few different ongoing projects, but the one I like the best is the tentatively named “The Inhabited West.” The series consists of aerial photographs parts of the American landscape: “pursuing themes of mapping, vertigo, human impact on the land, geology, and various aspects of the sublime.” Some interesting points on how we’ve constructed our world around nature, and how the two interact.