On May 24th, 2015, I set out on a 3-week road trip across the Western United States to document 5 vernacular art environments. At each site, the maker’s yard or garden at their home was their primary mode of expression. Because landscape is a common ground for everyone, the creation of place within the landscape helps to make sense of the world-- and to create a sense of belonging. These sites spanned anywhere from Catholic devotional grottos in Iowa to Noah Purifoy’s response to politics and racism in Los Angeles at his Outdoor Desert Art Museum, to Leonard Knight’s commitment to spreading a message of love at Salvation Mountain in Niland, California. Further indulging in the vernacular narrative of these sites, I played some songs to make the plants grow and made cassette field recordings of the improvised performances. These songs are both in honor of the plant’s caretakers who are no longer living, and in honor to the plants or landscape that play(ed) a huge part of the healing process for both the artists and visitors to the sites.
This project was generously supported by a Roads Grant for Travel and Research, given through Better Homes & Gardens historic preservation/art history course at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.