Postcards for America

2015

On July 8, 2015 I loaded up my 2013 Ford Focus with camping supplies, clothes, food, and my loyal and love-able dog Neptune Gravybones and set out on a cross-country road trip to Washington, DC, my birthplace and childhood hometown. Up until this time the farthest I had ever driven was to Tucson, Arizona, a little more than seven hours away. While I was looking forward to the solitude of the open road and the classic “clearing of the mind” it promised, I was still anxious, afraid of how much I would miss all my friends and how I would deal with connecting with, and then leaving, my friends, family, and new acquaintances along my journey. I wanted a way to stay in contact, take my loved ones with me, and to have them be part of my journey. I looked to the medium of the simple postcard as a way to do this.

I asked many people, including self-identified artists and non-artists, to send me images they would like me to print as 4inx6in postcards. In this invitation I also gave participants the opportunity to request that I drop off their cards at specific locations along my tentative route, relayed to them through a google map. Some participants sent me multiple images to leave in different locations, while others wanted the same card left in very specific spots. Most people sent an image and encouraged me to drop their card wherever I saw fit. With few exceptions the back of each card was left as a typical blank postcard format, with a small vertical line delineating address from message, and a square in the upper right corner indicating the proper space for postage. Unless specifically requested by the artist, I did not include any extra texts – no urls or names. I brought my inkjet printer with me so I could print new cards on-the-fly as people sent me images over the course of my month-long journey. Additionally, I created a few cards myself as a way of contributing to the project and commenting on my trip.

As I progressed in my travels, I found the postcards people sent me gave me an added purpose, took me to unexpected locations, and made me see the country through other people’s images, suggestions, and directions. I also liked how these cards inverted the typical postcard exchange. Instead of buying a card at, say, Bryce Canyon, UT and mailing it to a friend, I could leave a card from a friend at a travel mart or tourist trap in or near Bryce Canyon. I also found joy in leaving cards in places where their presence would surprise anyone who stumbled upon them, be it under a windshield wiper, in a tree, above a urinal, or in a vending machine.

I chose to document my placement of these cards using my iPhone 5. I uploaded some, but not all of these images to my Instagram and Facebook accounts. The result is a travelogue made mostly of other people’s images, imaginations, texts, and instructions on how to see and experience the American landscape. These became postcards for America.

I returned to Los Angeles on August 7, 2015.
Here are the cities where I slept during this road, listed chronologically.

Washington City, Utah
Escalante, Utah
Parker, Colorado
Denver, Colorado
Kansas City, Nebraska
Carbondale, Illinois
Cleveland, Ohio
Brooklyn, New York
Washington, DC
Charolette, North Carolina
Cherokee Lake, Tennessee
Jackson, Mississippi
Summit, Mississippi
New Orleans, Louisiana
San Antonio, Texas
Tucson, AZ

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