Another artist whose worked I learned about from Blue Sky Books is M. Alexis Pike. Her series, Claimed: Landscape, documents scenes of nature that have been painted onto buildings, houses, and vehicles in Idaho, where she grew up. Pike’s images explore the balance of the spectacular and the mundane, highlighting the way idyllic nature literally overlaps conventional structures in the American West. The depictions of majestic wilderness on the exterior walls of bars, cafes, convenience stores, apartment buildings, and garages are often chipped and faded, representing the nostalgia for “a Western landscape that was part of the grand package of the Western American dream” (source).

From the artist’s statement: As a sixth generation Idahoan, the landscape of the West influences my work, it’s part of my personal and cultural history, it is the geography of my genes. I grew up in two very distinct areas of Idaho: the scenic area of Stanley Basin—which sits at the base of the Sawtooth Mountain Range—and the town of Idaho Falls—a community that revolves around agriculture, religion and nuclear power. Living in these two regions gave me the perspective to appreciate the delicate balance of the scenic and the mundane and recognize how they overlap one another. I am exploring in this work the way communities and individuals stake claims on the picturesque landscape and place it within the conventional structures of the community. By making a photograph of these claimed territories, I am staking my own claim to my heritage, the landscape.  The manner in which we depict this scenery has become the identity and perception of the American West, symbolized by wilderness, mountain peaks, crystal clear rivers, and big game animals.  This is the mythology of the West.

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