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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Visions of America

Pictures taken and book written and compiled by Joseph Sohm

For over 30 years Sohm has been taking pictures of America, everything from farms to football games to the statue of liberty. Pictures that capture and release the feelings of democracy. My heart filled with esteem for my fellow compatriots and the contribution they make to our country as I perused and read this work of art.

Let me share a couple of quotes from the dedication which is to all Americans and all people seeking democracy.
The photography in this book was taken with the goal of celebrating the American experience in all its diversity.

One of my goals has been to illustrate how all nationalities live in relative peace in America. In my pictures and words, I've tried to include everyone - and that's a tall order. I have also been aware of how inadequate the scope of a book is as a vehicle for recognizing all the contributions to our nation of all the peoples who comprise it. My intent is to honor all, through images and words, and I hope I have done so.

I think Visions of America succeeds in celebrating the American experience and in honoring all. My husband, daughters, mother and I have all been thrilled as we thumbed through the pages. I came in the door the other day and my husband explained, "Awesome!" My mother said, "This is just wonderful." I can't wait to hear my brother, Steve's reaction - he'll probably try to take it home with him.

When I first lifted this book into my lap I leafed through looking at the pictures. At some point I found myself stymied as to the logic behind the grouping of pictures into chapters. Why a picture of the Jefferson Memorial alongside a picture of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Kenya? I quit looking at the pictures and turned to the table of contents where I discovered the section I had just been looking at was about blacks in America: Red White BLACK ~ From Africa to America. A really fun chapter is States of the Union where there are pictures of every state's capitol building, flag, and "Welcome to" signs. Sohm had set a goal to visit every state and get pictures of these items along with customized license plates. I was tickled to read that because we always stop and get a picture of us by state signs. We're only missing 4 states. It took Sohm over 15 years to collect all his pictures which explains why the Utah welcome sign says, "Utah: It's still the place to be." I think those have all been replaced with something about the 2002 Olympics. I think those are pretty cool, too.

Another favorite chapter - what am I saying? They are all favorites. Okay, the Avenue of the Americas chapter shows cityscapes of many of the larger cities in America along with some interesting and/or tall buildings, bridges, streets and other icons. There's an absolutely beautiful picture of Chicago.

Red White BLUES reminds us that there is much to be done in America as far as taking care of those less fortunate than ourselves. Pictures of run-down buildings in St. Louis and gang warfare in LA bring tears to my heart. What can be done? It's a haunting chapter in the book and a tragic chapter in America. This type of tragedy or ones similar happen in every city and by way in America.

There are thirteen chapters in this beautiful book, each offering a slice of America. I'm thrilled to death to own this book and have it on a table in my living room where I and others can pick it up and look through and read it. I keep thinking what a lovely present it would make.All the pictures I've shared in this post can be found in the book. For further information check out Sohm's web page, Visions of America. There are several beautiful, touching videos. I enjoyed learning more about the author.

4 comments:

Alyce said...

I have been working on my review for this book today. :) Great job reviewing it! I thought it was beautiful too!

Framed said...

Do you have my name for Christmas??

Diane said...

What beautiful photographs. Looks like a great book.

bermudaonion said...

The pictures in that book are stunning!