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2018 SPE Annual Conference: Uncertain Times: Borders, Refuge, Community, Nationhood / Hosted by The University of the Arts

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Johnna Arnold

SPE Member since 2012
Member Chapter: West

In/Finite Potential

The freeways snuck into my life. I utilize them without knowing how they were made or who made them. Like our food, water and electricity we share these essential resources while rarely appreciating or acknowledging that we do so. Our progress in "mastering" the land has separated us from the very thing that gives us life. In this new body of photographs, I put myself in landscapes that have been modified by freeways. In these inhospitable environments I look for the hidden beauty that combines the toxic with the dream-like. Deafeningly loud, cars pass by fast enough to pulverize any living thing in their way, forcing the air around them onto me. Leftovers surround me: graffiti, needles, mattresses, soot. And everywhere: the determination of weeds pushing through some combination of asphalt and Round-Up. My fear transforms to excitement as I seek out the unknown potential in these places. By adding myself to the landscapes I have an out-of-the-car experience between me, a small fleshy human, and these monolithic structures. Freeways aid us in our daily journeys yet cover the ground that could supply our food or soak up our water. Beneath or beside these concrete worlds I create spaces that highlight the hidden potentials within these discarded swaths of land.

Under the Maze, I-80, I-580, & I-880, Oakland, CA


Before the Home Depot (Dead Horse), I-880, Oakland, CA

Bart Platform, Hwy. 24, Orinda, CA

America, Under I-580, Oakland, CA

For Sale, I-880, Oakland, CA

Ikea Parking Lot, I-80, Emeryville, CA

Shelter, I-80, Albany, CA

Writing, Under Hwy. 24, Oakland, CA

Best Buy, I-580, Oakland, Ca


Fake Rock, I-80, Rodeo, CA

Hang my Hat, I-80, Cordelia, CA

Commuter Train, I-680, Benicia, CA

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