Friday, July 6, 2018

Cynthia Daignault's Road Trip

Cynthia Daignault was inspired by the rambling road trips of photographers such as William Eggleston and Robert Frank, and by writers such Mark Twain and Jack Kerouac. But she noticed the absence of women's names from the list.

She came up with an ambitious idea: to drive around America and stop whenever the odometer clocked another 25 miles. The goal was to paint whatever view presented itself. 
"Daignault traced the route she would take on a road map, snaking a thin pencil along the outside border of the continental United States. She drove the loop, on blue highways and back roads, avoiding interstates and stopping every few miles to get out of the car—look, paint, walk, or just sit. Traveling over 30,000 miles, across forests, deserts, mountains, and fields, she followed the road for a year." (Source)

Accomplishing the goal wasn't easy.
"I remember being about 7000 thousand miles into the drive and realizing, what have I done? My back hurt from sitting. I was exhausted from driving 14 hours a day. I was lonely and strung out. I remember looking at the canvases and thinking, “This has already taken months and I’m only at number 60. I still have 300 more to go.” (Source)

Eventually she built up 360 paintings, and called the collection "Light Atlas." 
An exhibition of "Light Atlas" will be on view as part of the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit  at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas through September 2018.

• Take part in the challenge "Paint a Parking Lot"

Thanks, Judy Maurer


Sam Weber said...

What an incredible project.

Maria Peagler said...

James - thank you for sharing this. I've read about Cynthia's project before, but didn't realize the huge scope of the project. I'm planning a much shorter road trip this summer and would love to do something like this. But not every 25 miles!

Ruth Squitieri said...

Wow, that is dedication! Just alone committing to painting whatever is in front of you when you randomly stop is a great challenge.
A friend painter of mine, Sharon Osterholt from Central Florida, did something similar 2 years ago. She painted at least once at each of Florida's 140 State parks. It took over a year to visit and paint each park! As far as I remember, her husband went with her and got a lot of fishing in... Each painting has a story of its creation featured on her blog. If interested, here is her blog
That is not for the timid!

Burnt Weenie said...

I bet Jack Kerouac had more fun on the road than Cynthia.

Karen Eade said...

Wow, that’s very impressive. Staying motivated all the way to 360 is amazing and I wonder how she managed the logistics of carting about all those paintings? I would have loved to read more practical stuff about the project rather than the rather philosophic musings on her website, but perhaps she is sustaining the mystery! Struck me (I am British and have never been to the USA) how very rural the US appears to be and how very sunny! All these endless vistas also make it seem empty. Perhaps it is. I do enjoy your paintings, though, James - where you focus on the parking lot, all the wires across the street, front ends of old cars etc - the elevation of the everyday Into your art gives me such a vivid insight into the US and makes it more ‘alive’. Thank you for this blog post, as always.

Susan Krzywicki said...

Gosh, another show I would like to see. Her observations about getting part way through a project like this is also echoed in each piece a person creates, right? Isn't there often that couple of seconds when we are in the midst of a project where we pull back and say, "What was I thinking?"