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Sylvia Crain

Collective Expression

We all have the need to leave a mark...

A pilgrimage to the grave of a long admired person. A visit along an ancient trade route. A stop at a pop culture location. These places in themselves have specific meaning as destinations. At each, ordinary people leave personal expressions – something that says they were there and want to be a part. Written, drawn, or carved, a flower, or stack of rocks, each expression is based on the need to leave an emotional statement. These expressions may be spiritual or more frivolous in nature but all cause a transformation in the original sense of the location. Found throughout the world, these expressions are surprisingly common once you begin looking for them.

This is not graffiti in its modern meaning whose intent is to broadly communicate a message to the general public. Here the expressers are ordinary people whose individual statements are not necessarily visible yet intertwine to create a collective statement that strengthens or alters the environment. A few or hundreds of years old, most expressions continue to transform as more individuals leave a piece of themselves. Collective Expression is about place and the need to be a part of something.

I am drawn to expressions because of this need for people to leave an emotional connection with their world, even when society does not always approve. As the pace of our lives becomes more frantic, expressions are a way to briefly slow down the pace and grab on – to reconnect and ground oneself. As people leave their mark they experience a moment of connection; as I photograph each expression I have the opportunity to feel the collective experience of the many people who have visited before me and to ground myself. I hope that your viewing of these expressions provides each of you a moment of connection with those who have left their marks and to experience a moment of grounding.

Here I present a selection of expressions – some stops along the way in my ongoing exploration of this ancient ritual and its enduring place in the cultures of our world.

Moki Dugway

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