NCOR Conference, American University
February brought the Scout vehicle out to Washington DC, where I was a presentor at the National Coalition for Organized Resistance conference.
Here's the workshop description:
Combating Genericana: A Perspective from the Midwest
This workshop focuses on outsider visionary art environments as well as vernacular iconic roadside monuments (i.e. world's largest ball of twine) that bill themselves as a World's Largest Things. Erika will talk about her town of Lucas, Kansas and its struggles with the agricultural industry, the out-migration of young people and the increasing ‘generification' of places with the influx of chain stores and the Wal-Martization of the rural landscape. Through a slide presentation of the World's Largest Things, Outsider Art Environments and roadside culture, Erika will present her personal methods of combating Genericana; the Lucas Kansas approach to sustaining and embracing a rural existence.
Erika Nelson is a visionary artist, educator and one of America's foremost experts and speakers on the World's Largest things and is also the founder and curator of a unique and innovative traveling roadside attraction called "the World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things".
In normal terms, I used my adopted home of Lucas as a template for community-building, stereotype-busting, and active expression of your views through public art. The students were very responsive, and I was glad to be able to speak to a wide variety of audiences, from activists to community members, construction guys to parking attendants, artists to janitors.
And, I got to see some amazing things along the way, too... See related Kentucky Cool page.
As it turns out, the most effective tool I brought with me, in Combating Genericana, was the truck itself, Scout. Evidently, there aren't many Art Cars in DC, as the students, faculty, and service people on campus spend many hours exploring the side murals and objects, I befriended the people along my host family's street in the middle of a slowly gentrifying DC neighborhood, and while sightseeing there were many SUVs driven by Suit People, driving in my blind spot while focusing their camera phones.
Good trip, warped young minds, and continued to bridge some of the gaps between us in Flyover land and Coastal Dwellers, as well as re-defining public art and methods of activism through mobile works of art...
Tips? Photos? Please share:
World's Largest Things
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