For The Collective Quarterly
Rejecting our cultural caricature of the godforsaken desert
By Kim Stringfellow.
Kim Stringfellow is an artist, educator and independent curator based in Joshua Tree, CA. Her work bridges cultural geography, public practice and experimental documentary into creative, socially engaged transmedia experiences. She is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow and the 2012 recipient of the Theo Westenberger Award for Artistic Excellence.
While on our year long Airstream tour of the US, I worked with Kim to produce imagery throughout the Mojave that illustrated an essay she wrote about John C. Van Dyke's book The Desert: Further Studies in Natural Appearances, and how it continues to shape popular oppinion on the Desert. A few hundred rolls of film later, here is a small vignette.
“The weird solitude, the great silence, the grim desolation, are the very things with which every desert wanderer eventually falls in love. You think that strange perhaps? Well, the beauty of the ugly was sometime a paradox, but to-day people admit its truth; and the grandeur of the desolate is just paradoxical, yet the desert gives it proof.” —John C. Van Dyke, The Desert, 1901