Depicted in this project are fragments of the American experience: private back yards, public roads, landmarks built or dismantled. Viewed together, relationships between disparate sites and structures emerge, highlighting the various systems that direct our collective national consciousness: business, infrastructure, agriculture, territory, racism, religion, power, entertainment, tourism, and more.
Dictated by these invisible forces, the indelible marks of past actions and diverse quests for an American Dream become potent symbols in our visual landscape. The photographs – of walls, gaps, signs, memorials, artifacts, debris – construct a shared language from the physical material of these systems, one that both reflects and forewarns.
In many images there is a sense that something is missing, whether physical or contextual, underscoring the incomplete narratives that photographs and history often tell. Absent also of human figures, it is as if the subjects of these images are waiting for something, suspended in time, suggesting a portrait of our past, present, and future all at once.
Image locations & titles:
01. Rt. 287 South, Montana (cloud, mountain)
02. Uvalde, Texas (Blockbuster)
03. Watauga County, North Carolina (Confederate flag scrap)
04. Austin, Texas (cowboy)
05. Alliance, Nebraska (Carhenge)
06. Navajo Nation outside Page, Arizona (view of former Navajo Generating Station)
07. Holy Land U.S.A., Waterbury, Connecticut (statue)
08. New Orleans, Louisiana (Mardi Gras beads)
09. Santa Barbara, California (lemon tree)
10. Gary, Indiana (Michael Jackson’s childhood home)
11. St. Bernard Parish bordering New Orleans, Louisiana (levee, floodwall)
12. Calexico, California (Mexican border wall)
13. Austin, Texas (Our Lady of Guadalupe)
14. Route 66, Kingman, Arizona (motel mural)
15. “They Also Ran” Gallery, Norton, Kansas (dedicated to presidential candidates who ran and lost)
Kim Llerena is a photographic artist based in Miami, Florida. She holds an MFA in Photographic & Electronic Media from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a BA in Journalism from New York University. She exhibits nationally in addition to serving as full-time faculty at the University of Miami.
Llerena was a D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities Fellowship Program grantee in 2021, a Flash Forward Competition top 100 winner selected by The Magenta Foundation in 2019, and one of 100 photographers invited to participate in CENTER’s Review Santa Fe in 2019. Her work investigates our constructed relationship to place, particularly our methods of delineating terrain, territory, and private/public spaces.
© text and pictures by Kim Llerena