I miss art. I miss the paintings and photographs that used to be on my walls and are now under the bed or at friends’ houses. But the more I miss it, the happier I am when I see something really interesting!
That’s how I felt when I saw Matt McCormick’s video and photography installation at the Tacoma Art Museum’s 10th Northwest Biennial a few weeks ago. It wasn’t obvious what the installation, The Great Northwest, was about — just several large photographs of photographs, a video screen playing a scene of cows walking a long a road (they weren’t fenced in) and a display case with a large, dark red leather bound scrap book curatorially listed as “ephemera”.
It wasn’t until I read the wall text that a big smile came across my face and I said to Ingrid and Dante “Now this is an awesome idea”.
This installation was about two separate adventures. The women who took the original adventure were Bev, Berta, Sissie and Clarice and in 1958 they went on a road trip together through Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon, and had the foresight to keep a scrapbook of their journey.
Matt McCormick found this scrapbook at a thrift store, and, much like I would’ve done, bought it. There were ticket stubs, black and white photos of themselves (in pajamas smoking cigarettes) and brochures of the landmarks they visited — some which would change only a few months later as the Interstate Highway System began construction in these areas. I can only assume that as he paged through the scrapbook, Matt McCormick got The Idea; to follow the same path — recreating the adventure himself. He would retrace the steps of these four (undoubtedly) sassy ladies and document the changes in the landscape they experienced.
As a traveler, I love everything about this piece. I love that these women took the trip, I love that they made a (detailed, with typed labels) scrapbook about their journey, I love that McCormick found it and bought it and did something with it that allowed me to see it as well. It’s just what I would’ve done.