The promise of America from discovery through colonization, and ultimate emergence as the United States, has been the promise of paradise. Initially, the dream was of riches, freedoms, and fulfillment. Later, consumption of the North American western frontier according to an accepted Manifest Destiny was paramount. The belief in American paradise, and what became known as the "American Dream," has shifted emphasis during the short history of this country.
Defining the essence of paradise is elusive since no clear universally agreed, definition exists. In American culture, the belief persists that through one's own efforts, a personal paradise is achievable. But what does that paradise look like? Does it really exist?
The economic collapse of 2008 in the United States, and the associated, overnight disappearance of jobs, foreclosure of homes, and evaporation of savings, devastated many and crushed hopes of achieving the American Dream. I experienced that fear for my future and for the nation.
What began as a personal exploration in an attempt to grasp an understanding of my present and future became a quest to comprehend whether or not the lingering effects of the events of 2008 have exhausted the inherent optimism of the American people, or if the ideals of the American Dream are still secure. Mapping, traveling, and photographing throughout the United States on Roads called Paradise, I attempt to determine the temperature of a cross-section of American culture and to produce a metaphorical survey of American happiness, security, sanctuary, longing, and unfortunately, defeat in this particular changing and imbalanced time.