Fred's Great Adventure

Perhaps it's ironic that the "least serious" body of work on this site is the only series with an accompanying Artist’s Statement.


Shortly after graduating from college, I embarked on a coast to coast journey with one of my best friends.  Two girls, an old beater car full of random photo gear, a cooler full of snacks and film, and the open road were all we needed for a summer adventure.


As a joke, I brought Fred the Flamingo along, and sent anonymous Polaroids to one of my favorite professors.  An homage to my last carefree summer, and my quirky way of thanking him for everything he had done for me.


Boy did we have some adventures!  We met a mobile hippie commune traveling in a strange painted school bus, found an Amish grocery that sells chainsaws, a live bait soda machine in the middle of nowhere, a giant concrete buffalo (and some real ones in The Badlands), a studio creating blown glass, about a million antique shops, the Seattle space needle, and lastly a long plane ride home.


It was a fun, goofy, project, and aside from the fine folks at the TSA , everyone really loved Fred.  Tourists we met asked to take their picture with him, everyone wanted to know the story.  The photos turned out exactly as intended- a light-hearted, quirky prank of a project that gave me an excuse to use up the last of that Polaroid film from the fridge.


These photographs were never intended to be published, and really never intended to be seen in any other context than taped to the back of a postcard.  Yet I feel obligated to include them here at the behest of my friends and family, and when I think about it, even silly photos can have a cherished place in our lives- these certainly do for me.


They remind me to celebrate the beauty in the imperfect, and appreciate that which is unusual and silly.  I’m pretty sure plastic lawn flamingos are not what my professor had in mind when he spoke of "wabisabi", and the beauty in imperfect art objects, however I find beauty in the absurdity and strangeness of these photos.  The unusualness is what makes them charming and endearing.


Sometimes we all take ourselves a little too seriously.  These photos make me giggle, and remind me to slow down and celebrate this big, strange adventure we call life.




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Copyright 2014 Jessi Smith, individually and/or Jessi Smith Productions. All rights reserved.