Mainfest Destiny

What would Powell think - David Jones

As an artist involved with the SCREE project, what I am most interested in is looking at the West through the lens of how it has actually been shaped over the last 150 years versus the original vision of explorers such as John Wesley Powell. I am interested the stark contrast between Manifest Destiny and how it romanticized the American West as a wild new frontier compared to the place that it actually became.  John Wesley Powell had a good understanding at the time of his expedition that things such as water and land use were very important to shaping and maintaining the American West as a sustainable place in regards to resources.  However, I have always been curious what he would think about the West as it is now.  I wonder how he would receive things such as Indian Reservations, the Glen Canyon Dam, the White Sands Proving Grounds, the countless oil and gas well pads that dot the landscape, or the interstate system.  What would they have to say about our current land use polices versus proposed changes to our land use policies under our current administration?  I have been fascinated with the Western landscape and all that it contains, both the natural and the man-made since I first came to Wyoming in 2003.  I was always familiar with the artist’s role in helping to shape the concept of Manifest Destiny in the 1800’s but this took on a new perspective for me after having seen the west for the first time.  I do not plan to have few if any questions answered at the end of this trip as much as I plan to have more questions to ask.  I have always thought that good art always provides more questions than it does answers and so I look forward to embracing a much more pointed curiosity about the West as both place and space at the end of this expedition. 

 One project I do hope to complete on my leg of the river trip is build temporary dioramas from an ammo can full of miniature props along the way and then photograph them.  This has been a part of my studio practice now for some time and I look forward to interacting with the landscape within the Grand Canyon.