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2024 Annual Conference

St. Louis

March 21-23, 2024

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Christopher Schneberger

SPE Member since 2012
Member Chapter: Midwest

The Wanderers

The Wanderers

"For me, childhood roaming was what developed self-reliance, a sense of direction and adventure, imagination, a will to explore, to be able to get a little lost and then figure the way back." Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

When I was young I would set out into the woods, sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone, and look for new pathways, new adventure. My friends and I would sometimes plan expeditions, sometimes including "camping out" for the night, and this would include the packing of gear and provisions – sleeping bags, canteens, compasses, flashlights, pocket knives – as if we were exploring a frontier. Though often that frontier was merely nearby forest, or a trail, or the agrarian spaces of crops, to us it was wilderness to be traversed and conquered. What were we searching for? Perhaps it was adventure, or just to be independent. We wanted to be scouts, like Lewis and Clark, or Daniel Boone. We wanted to venture out from the parentally minded homes, and enter a land with less guarantee of safety and more chance of discovery. We wanted to prove to ourselves we could survive it. In our minds, at least mine, we might find a new home in the wilds and never return to civilization.

This new series of semi-narrative tableaus imagines a band of young explorers traversing the land. These young women portray both the fantasy of those childhood expeditions and serve to illustrate the idea of getting lost, being lost, and finding one's way. This is not a specific story being told with a point-by-point plot, but a series of scenarios with repeating characters and tropes. The land they roam is a non-specific midwestern farmscape, both wild and cultivated, seen in a half-light of evening or gathering storms. The relationships between these wanderers shifts with the landscape, and is often deliberately ambiguous. I intend to depict them just on the edge of reality, verging slightly into the cinematic, in hopes the viewer will indulge in the same idealistic vision and suspend disbelief.

Solnit goes on to say, "Getting lost like that seems like the beginning of finding your way or finding another way, though there are other ways of being lost." This series is in some ways my own processing of being lost and finding my way, and gaining an appreciation of getting lost as a deliberate act.

The Wanderers #1 (Suitcase)

The Wanderers #2 (River Crossing)

The Wanderers #3 (Emerging)

The Wanderers #4 (The Sentry)

The Wanderers #5 (Lake Encounter)

The Wanderers #8 (Stargazers)

The Wanderers #9 (Wagon)

The Wanderers #14

The Wanderers #15 (Tenderfoot)

The Wanderers #16 (Bow)

The Wanderers #17 (Taps)

The Wanderers #18 (The Sleepers)

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