Because suburbia occupies a dominant presence in so many lives—a place of not only residence but also of work, commerce, worship, education, and leisure—it has become a focal point for competing interests and viewpoints. The suburbs have always been a fertile space for imagining both the best and the worst of modern social life. more
Drawn Here: Sean Griffiths of FAT
Target Free Thursday Nights
Thursday, March 6 7:00 pm
Escape to the Suburbs!
Free First Saturday
Saturday, April 5 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Next Exit: The Shifting Landscape of Suburbia
Target Free Thursday Nights
Thursday, April 24 7:00 pm
All essays are originally from the companion book for this exhibition, Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes. Some essays appear in excerpted form where noted.
American, b. 1971, Ithaca, New York; lives and works in Savannah, Georgia
Jessica Smith produces a limited-edition line of textiles under the name Domestic Element. Using a digital textile printer, she creates patterns of cloverleaf highway ramps that resemble Celtic knots, bold cul-de-sac mazes, and houses from Levittown that are as ubiquitous as polka dots. Her interest in merging historical decorative traditions with contemporary themes comes from her belief in “the house as a symbol of self and the notion that how we decorate relates directly to our personal and communal beliefs, aspirations and values.” Her pattern (2005/2007) was inspired by the French toile de Jouy tradition. Smith adapted the quaint pastoral scenes shown in outline on a white background to the suburbs because ‘‘I wanted to make my own pastoral countryside, and the countryside of America is the suburbs.” The inherent repetition of the houses in and the cans stacked by the curb is an ironic commentary on the homogeneity of suburbia. Her inspiration came from a childhood spent in such subdivisions. “Each Sunday families spend hours sprucing up their homes. . . . The second part of this ritual comes later in the week, when curbsides become overwhelmed with trash. . . . For those few hours while our rubbish waits, we have reversed our earlier act, and instead of sweeping up our unwanted goods, [we’re] leaving them out for all to see.” Smith’s work has been exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York; Atlanta Design Museum; and School of Visual Arts, New York. Her work has been featured in such publications as the , of London; magazine, and .
We asked people to make a video telling us about the suburbs and put it on YouTube. Selected videos are showing in the gallery at the Walker Art Center during the run of the exhibition.
Do you live in a suburb? Do you work or go to school in one? What is your experience of the “burbs? ”…
Whether you love them or hate them we’re interested in your thoughts on the phenomenon of the American suburb. We invite you to make a 5-minute video about strip malls, cul-de-sacs, office parks, and green lawns or whatever suburbia means to you. A select number of videos will be chosen to screen as part of the exhibition Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes in the Target Gallery from February 15 to May 18, 2008.
To participate, upload your video to YouTube and add the tag “walkerworldsaway” or post it as a response to our video above. We’ll feature all videos on the Walker’s YouTube page. To be considered for gallery screening, entries must be 5 minutes or less and be online by January 18, 2008.