I woke up at 5 AM to beat the 110 degree Arizona heat that was soon to face us. Outside the WHAM Arts Center, a group of ten volunteers stood eager to help me install the 111 portraits that I'd brought from California. While some were to hang inside the gallery, the majority were waiting their display on a nearby park's fence and another city owned property around the corner. With the temperatures rising by the moment, we quickly set off to work.
In the predawn light, we laid out the 30 foot long lengths of vinyl material that held six portraits. Fairly quickly the prints went up. It's a bit tricky to get the tension on the zip ties just right so I spent considerable time double checking the work and replacing ties where necessary. Still, it was a race to get the prints up before being overwhelmed by the heat.
I'd been commissioned by the arts center and the city to install the work in the Original Town Site (OTS) part of Surprise. Not long ago, the town consisted of dirt roads and a few blocks of Latino owned homes and businesses. Over the past 20 years, the town has exploded in size leaving the original townspeople feeling marginalized in the process.
Earlier in 2018, I'd visited the city and taken portraits of people in and around the OTS. In designing the layout for the exhibition, I paired a portrait of an individual from Surprise with a portrait taken in one of the 50 US states. Together, they'd appear in public with the goal of photographically integrating both individuals within the community and the community itself with others from around the nation.
In addition to the photos on the fence, I also experimented with placing a couple of photos on the exterior windows of the WHAM gallery.
Inside I used a special vinyl material for the prints. The vinyl offers a high resolution image that is extremely durable and able to withstand abuse that would destroy a traditional print. Using the vinyl in this way brought the costs of the exhibition way down without sacrificing my artistic vision. After this the show will move to Huntington University in Peoria, Arizona.