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Not a destination

CMU art professor's eight-year project comes to a close

Contact: CMU News

CMU art professor Al Wildey has taken more than 9,000 photographs from the dashboard of his car as he traveled more than 33,000 miles through all 50 states. Many of these photographs have come together to create his last piece of art in a series that has spanned eight years.

“This piece, titled ‘Not a Destination,’ is the cumulative result of 50 journeys recorded over the past eight years while traversing America,” said Wildey. “Together the photographs form a vague impression of the road, horizon and sky, and each one has its own story.” 

Wildey creates digital photographic composites by layering and compositing the photos from his road trips, lowering the opacity of individual photographs to a point where each one is barely perceptible. Together they form a vague impression of the road, horizon and sky.

The project began during a road trip from Michigan to Idaho in 2006 during which Wildey mounted a camera on his dashboard. He has since continued this practice on each of his journeys, long and short, over the past eight years.

“It is really about the journey, and I titled this piece ‘Not a Destination’ from the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson — 'Life is a journey, not a destination,'” said Wildey. “The image speaks to the physical vastness and diversity of this country, car culture, the interplay of experience and memory, and the role of photography in documenting and interpreting a sense of place.”

‘Not a Destination’ is on display through Aug. 23 at Art Reach of Mid Michigan in downtown Mount Pleasant as part of Art Walk Central. The artwork also will be on exhibit at the DeVos Place Convention Center during ArtPrize in Grand Rapids Sept. 24 through Oct. 12.

Wildey has been making lens-based art for over three decades and has exhibited nationally in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Denver and Dallas and internationally in Paris, London, Florence, Barcelona, Prague, Izmir and Beijing. His works are in numerous public and private collections in America, Europe and Asia.

Learn more about Art Walk Central here.

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