Growing up on Vancouver Island, America was a land that seemed somewhat like a mirage to Leah Frances. A place that was within reach but, at the same time, a reality experienced through a dreamscape– the lens of Hollywood. “If I squinted I could see across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the lights of Port Angeles, Washington from my bedroom window,” says Frances. “My dad and I watched a lot of films, classics like Mildred Pierce, Citizen Kane, and Double Indemnity. I had the impression that just across the water, everything looked like it did in the movies.”
There is, and will always be to some degree, a reflective screen between Frances and America. Not only through her profession, and Canadian citizenship, but through the way in which she was introduced to America. Her lens, both literally and figuratively, is informed by a childhood diet of Mid-century American cinema. Frances herself is acutely aware of this positioning– it’s something she hopes her work captures. — Excerpted from my recent interview on usofamerica.com
“The American road in all its recalcitrant splendour: large cars, large signs, large spaces, large dreams and promises of freedom now abandoned. Leah Frances… catalogues this suspended mythology; a departure point for dark and dreamy stories.” — double-decker.org
I’m interested in the distance between commonly held ideas surrounding “American-ness” and the actual reality of daily life in this country. I’m an invisible immigrant, so to speak, and I arrived with preconceived notions: America as prettily packaged in Hollywood films, on TV, in books and in magazines. These constructed perspectives are a step removed from a lived life. For the past three years I have been taking road trips, documenting traces of American cultural identity across as much of the country as I can reach.
To view more of Leah’s work please visit her website.