the museum of americana

a literary review

Inward Lenses

Mirrors and lenses reflect and capture. The artists in this section work in an intimate space, occupied with the examination of self, family, and home – yet what they reflect and capture expands beyond the immediate, asking the viewer to consider the complexity of the places we call home and the bodies we inhabit.

 

Anna Mikuskova

Image 3: Untitled_The Faraway Nearby, Digital Print, 19.2″X12.8″, 2021

1 A.Mikuskova_The Faraway Nearby-3

Image 9: Untitled_The Faraway Nearby, Digital Print, 19.2″X12.8″, 2022

2 A.Mikuskova_The Faraway Nearby-9

Image 1: Untitled_The Faraway Nearby, Digital Print, 19.2″X12.8″, 2022

3 A.Mikuskova_The Faraway Nearby-4

“There have always been itinerants, drifters, hobos, restless souls. But now, in the third millennium, a new kind of wandering tribe is emerging. People who never imagined being nomads are hitting the road. They’re giving up traditional houses and apartments to live in what some call “wheel estate” – vans, secondhand RVs, school buses, pickup campers, travel trailers, and plain old sedans. They are driving away from the impossible choices that face what used to be the middle class.” – Nomadland

The theme of home runs in my work like an Alaskan braided river, at times powerful and central, at times in meandering peripheral channels, all flowing from the experience of an immigrant who found home in remote corners at the edge of the world. When in the spring of 2020 I became temporarily houseless due to the global pandemic that caused my student housing to close, my consciousness about home and domesticity expanded even further. A beat-up converted school bus, a shared room in employee housing for seasonal workers, a stream behind a parked trailer, the mountain tops that extend one’s sense of belonging towards the distant horizon. Traveling in Alaska—a frequent destination for those chasing a dream, I photograph wanderers like me who have turned uncertainty into a life. Driven by an intense love of nature, individualism, a sense of freedom, and a desire to escape the confines of conventional lifestyle, these modern-day nomads have taught me that the sense of belonging comes in many forms and that a relationship to a place is no less intimate for being temporary.

 

feifei wang

Selected works from Once I opened my Dad’s Drawer

6 爸妈坐床上背面

4 全家cosplay

 

Maggie Meiners

Girl Interrupted, photograph, appx. 20″ x 30,” 2021

7 ©Maggie Meiners Girl Interupted

Skin Deep, photograph, appx. 20″ x 30,” 2012

8 ©Maggie Meiners Selfies

As a child, I was always intrigued by Norman Rockwell’s prolific cover illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post, a newspaper he considered to be “the greatest show window in America. His paintings capture his observations of early to mid-20th-century life in America. While the general, and often humorous, stories told by his paintings – from a child who is sent to the principal’s office, to an exulted war hero and the anticipation of a Thanksgiving meal – remain as American as ever. It was recently discovered that Rockwell produced his paintings from staged photographs either shot by him or shot by an assistant – the photograph was a template for the final product. 

With this revelation, I am exploring Rockwell’s work where the photograph is the final product. My project, Revisiting Rockwell, attempts to contemporize Rockwell’s original works by weaving into each photograph the social issues and elements more suggestive of today. I am examining whether the nostalgia of Rockwell’s work translates into our rapidly changing lifestyles and his very human tableaux can reflect this moment in time. I am drawn to Rockwell’s work because I have always had a fascination with the past and end up having a better understanding of the world if I look at the old in the context of the new. As I continue to examine Rockwell’s work, I have noticed, for better or worse, that while the sociological landscape has changed in many ways, there is much that remains the same.

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Anna MikuskovaAnna Mikušková is a photographer who focuses on themes of home, belonging and people’s relationship to the environment they inhabit. She received an MA in English literature from Masaryk University in the Czech Republic and an MFA in Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Find her work at mikuphoto.com

 

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feifei Wangfeifei wang is a photography based artist currently living and working in Chicago. She received BFA fine art in School of the art Institute of Chicago and an MFA candidate. She recently received Endsley Fellowship in SAIC.  Her experiences as a woman, living outside her culture as an outsider, and her identity as a rebel in relationship to her parent’s traditional values were also in question after a discovery in her parents bedroom. Photographing the outward tear in her reality allowed her to gain new insight, and slowly recognize herself through her parents’ actions.

 

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Meiners headshot

Maggie Meiners is an artist whose work revolves around self-critique. Influenced by image culture and how it personally affects her, Meiners deploys photography, film stills, cultural artifacts and magazines to tackle subjects such as identity, gender, and social status. Using a variety of mediums, Meiners explores the psychological effects of popular imagery on her psyche.

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