Stuart Klipper: The World in a Few States

July 18 – September 14, 2021


Reception Sunday, August 22, 2 – 4 pm

Exhibition on loan from RJ and Krista Kern and is a promised gift to the Museum’s collection.


I have made photographs in all 50 states; scoping out the lay of the land and the hand of man — and whatall may have been wrought in places where each overlay: the fruit of enterprise, and, the sullied tumult. Evidence of the land we’re on and the world we find ourselves in; where we’re at and who we are; what we’ve done; and, where we can go.

This ever-expanding agglomeration of pictures now numbers upwards of 30,000. It was initiated by a three-state corporate art commission in 1980. It is titled, “The World in a Few States” (TWFS).

As indicated the number of States has now, inexorably, burgeoned to the maximum. Nonetheless, the physical/cultural geography and epistemological/ontological double entendre implicit in that (now somewhat understated) title has remained essentially unaltered — if anything, this admix of concept and observation has become increasingly richer, broader, and perforce, more complex.

At its most elemental TWFS is (as with the work I’ve done in the Antarctic and other distant, remote, and extreme precincts) subsumed by concerns about the nature of Place and placement in Nature. More specifically, it examines and addresses and strives to make some clear and deep sense of the manifold ambient characteristics that define and crystallize the identity of American places — that plumb, depict, and document the nature and the temper of individual American regions.

At every possible go, I go out and photograph. I certainly cannot say I’ve been everywhere yet, far from it. But, in specific areas I feel confident of not being too far shy of having had been sufficiently sweeping in my wanderings (Minnesota, most and foremost; much of Colorado; all of the Cajun/Creole parishes of Louisiana; a fair share of Iowa; a heaping slice out of the broad midriff of Texas; criss-crosses of California, Arizona, and New Mexico,etc., etc.). Wonderings to boot:  About these places’ nature and workings; their wherewithall and whys and wherefores; their intrinsic aboutness.

The comprehensive compass of such a way of working begs to approximate an encyclopedic asymptote. The number of possible locations to stop and look at is limitless. The vast range of TWFS’s constituent categories of content, and accordioning inventories of subject, bear, I suppose, a spiritual kinship to the infinity of ever-generating pages in Borge’s fabulist libraries, and the recursive involutions of Mandelbroit’s endlessly iterative sets. One path, or variation, can engender any number of others; a single direction, or tangent, can refract into a multi-faceted and diverging spectrum of new, and often unforeseen, options.

-Stuart Klipper


Radio Interview

Stuart Klipper, Grain Elevators, Cavalier, Pembina Co., North Daktota, 1988.

Stuart Klipper, Road Salt, Front Loader, Searsport, Waldo Co., Maine, 1993.

Stuart Klipper, Houses, Hwy 2, Ohio Co., West Virginia, 1995.