Americana

50 States, 50 Months, 50 Exhibitions
September 05, 2007 to May 14, 2012


The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.

—Walt Whitman

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / American Samoa / Guam / Puerto Rico / U.S. Virgin Islands / Washington D.C.

Americana: 50 States, 50 Months, 50 Exhibitions is a long-term presentation consisting of 50 displays, each approximately one month long, coorganized by Wattis Institute director Jens Hoffmann and CCA's Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice. Each month's display will examine an American state, in alphabetical order by state name.

Through artworks, historical artifacts, curiosities, and other elements, Americana will focus on overlooked and little-known aspects of each state. All presentations take place in the same exhibition space, which is configured in the shape of the continental United States.

Americana examines the states as they are today, looking at how America's social and political imperatives condition the production, presentation, and interpretation of art and exhibition making. The brisk pace of the 50 displays reflects the varied and constantly changing fabric of this relatively young country and its multilayered, shifting national identity.

The title is a reference to an exhibition of the same name that was curated by the artist collaborative Group Material at the 1985 biennial of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Group Material also focused on art and elements of mass culture that they understood as overlooked, forgotten, and outside the mainstream in order to investigate critically how museums and exhibitions assist in the formation of American identity.

Founding support for CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts programs has been provided by Phyllis C. Wattis and Judy and Bill Timken. Generous support provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, Grants for the Arts / San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, Ann Hatch and Paul Discoe, and the CCA Curator's Forum.

All installation images from the Americana series is photographed by Johnna Arnold.