by Pam Greenberg
In Focus, last week featured “America: 50 States in 50 Photos.” The photos from mid 2012 "… are simply interesting, noteworthy, beautiful, or otherwise caught my eye.” says the collection’s editor, Alan Taylor.
The photos may not represent the whole of any state, as
Taylor says, but luckily for us,
some photographers and writers in recent years have attempted to collect a bit
of the character of our states. The 50
States Project, which ran January through September in 2009, featured
images from 50 photographers from across the U.S. The photographers were
asked to produce images that represented their own style and the states’
“people, habitat, landscape, industry, and entertainment.”
Another 50-state collection, the book “State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America,” features essays of 50 writers from 50 states. Editors Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey explain the idea behind the book:
This book started with a hunch and a conviction. The conviction was the easy part: that despite drive-time radio and the nightly news and the Sunday paper, despite all the books and blog posts, the documentaries and songs, America and the lives lived here remain strangely and surprisingly underdescribed.”
They go on to explain that the fifty states “…bound together today as tightly as any confederation on earth—somehow stubbornly resist blending into a single undifferentiated whole.”
Each state’s essay seems to affirm that theme, including the the Texas piece, with reflections about the state’s politics, capitol building, and reputation as “a state more independent than the rest.” The South Carolina essay begins with the famous quote of state legislator James Louis Petigru, who opposed secession in 1860, saying: “South Carolina is too small for a sovereign nation and too large for an insane asylum.”
Time for an armchair road trip?