I will be presenting my work as a featured alumni speaker at the event, “Reports From the Field: Works in Progress in Visual and Critical Studies” at California College of Arts. I am presenting alongside my former classmate and friend, Duane Deterville and VCS faculty, Tina Takemoto and Jeanette Roan. Come check us out and learn more about the VCS program!
Friday, March 30th from 7 – 9PM
1111 Eighth Street
As a Visual and Critical Studies student I am constantly being reminded by my advisors to use the visual as an anchor in which to discuss the critical and theoretical issues my thesis addresses: race, whiteness, mobility, place, space, home, the myth of the American frontier and so on. So, here are some of those visuals without any explanatory text.
The ride West from Tallahassee, Florida was a blur. A heavy tropical storm was directly over head and on the horizon was a gathering of ominous grey, green clouds, interrupted only by the pounding of heavy raindrops against the windshield. It was the middle of hurricane season and the traffic on highway ten was a slow crawl; the cars ahead were barely visible. Many had pulled over and parked beneath an overpass, their hazard lights blinking an incessant warning. People around here had learned to be wary of storms.
As a Northern California native, anything more than the drizzle of a foggy
rainstorm made me uneasy and so, for the duration of the five-hour drive to New
Orleans, I sat silently with my eyes closed and my body stiff with worry, despite
reassurance from my traveling partner that this weather was normal. The storms’ eventual passing made visible the tenuous relationship between the open road and the expansive and foreboding water of Lake Pontchatrain. From the car window a haunting landscape was revealed: cypress trees with trunks frozen horizontally, scattered debris, and abandoned car after abandoned car—evidence of attempts to flee a storm that began not unlike this one, yet ended with devastation.
New Orleans is a city I came to know only through the catastrophic aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina. I arrived in New Orleans nearly one year after the hurricane to work as a volunteer with Common Ground Relief, a non-profit organization that emerged in response to the lack of government sponsored relief efforts. My trip to New Orleans was a pre-planned destination on a cross-country road trip. I was twenty-two years old, had recently graduated from college and had moved from the small California beach town of Santa Cruz to the city of San Francisco. Like many recent college graduates, I left behind a network of peers and a familiar place of belonging and was adjusting to the first time in my life when I was truly on my own. The cross-country road trip was a temporary solution to the restlessness of this time. It was an exploration into the unknown: geographically as I traveled through vast deserts, mountain ranges, small
country towns, and large cities and emotionally as the open roads provided space for reflection and the experience of travel encouraged self-knowledge. I was seeking an education that comes only with leaving behind that which is familiar, a perspective that comes with distance, and an education about the country in which I was born and yet knew so little about.