The Middle of Somewhere

ebook An Artist Explores the Nature of Virginia

By Suzanne Stryk

cover image of The Middle of Somewhere

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There's no such thing as the middle of nowhere. Everywhere is the middle of somewhere for some living being. That was Suzanne Stryk's mantra as she journeyed through her home state on a mission to re-create Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia. The founding father's work surveys the region's natural history and, as one might expect from a philosopher-statesman living more than 230 years ago, is fact packed and formally written.<BR><BR><i><b>The Middle of Somewhere</i></b> takes a different approach—to interpret Virginia land and life from a contemporary perspective and an artist's point of view. Stryk kayaks pristine swamps in river country, wanders the galleries of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, hikes rocky trails crisscrossing the Appalachians, and strolls the dusty streets of old coal towns. In these sacred spaces she encounters frogs, millipedes, ravens, dragonflies, sparrows, turtles, and many other species that claim a particular place as home.<BR><BR>Weaving in historical anecdotes and personal memories, Stryk relates her encounters with all of these beings in their "somewheres." The creatures in their habitats and the people she meets are characters in the book, a tapestry of essays, lush sketches, and ephemera. Stryk's multimedia collages, composed of dead bugs, tourist pamphlets, road maps, pressed leaves, rusty farm equipment, animal bones, and handwritten directions, all artistically arranged over USGS topographic maps, bring the narrative to life.<BR><BR>Stryk's personal reflections and conversational tone make readers feel as if they are traveling across Virginia with a friend, one who is at times funny and at other times deeply reflective. As we accompany her, she challenges us to travel slowly, tread lightly, and look closely at each somewhere that defines a place.
The Middle of Somewhere