Americana- I believe in USA

This weekend Artifact Uprising began a three day challenge using the hashtag #AUAmericana. The point of this challenge was to inspire the users of Instagram to consider and share what it is that inspires them about the American culture. The winner of this challenge will be given the opportunity to take over AU's feed this upcoming weekend. Needless to say, when I heard about this challenge I was both excited and intrigued. I struggled to brainstorm ideas about what America meant to me- was it the snow capped peaks of the Cascades or the golden sunsets on the plains? Was it the people or was it the land? 

America is a mystery. It is both an ideal and a reality, and those two are sometimes completely opposite. Far from a melting pot where everyone harmoniously melts together, America is a land of opposites. There are people from the far right and the far left politically, there is a mixture of religions and worldview points, and there is a vast range of wealth- from the staggeringly wealthy to the heartrendingly poor. With all of these differences it is no surprise that Americans often disagree with one another, we disagree on healthcare, childcare, education, taxes... the list goes on and on. So what is it, exactly, that binds this country together?

To be honest, I am not sure. America is a multicolored coat, full of different geographic patches and held together by the stories of its citizens. I adore my native country, especially when I see areas where differences are accepted and become a celebrated part of the community. As a country we can be stubborn and proud, traits which are often at the root of our successes and our blunders. As a people… as a people we defy stereotypes and confirm them. We are both mainstream materialism and the counter-culture cry for simplicity. We are a people constantly struggling for balance. We are something, and

yet we are also its complete opposite.

It seems to be the people that bind us as a country- each person held by chains of love, family, and/or friendship to those around us. Link after link we add, and each added link brings with it the links of others, until we have a glowing web that holds communities together. Today, with the USA vs. Belgium game starting in less than an hour, I am reminded of those chains as they become more apparent with friends and strangers coming together and bond over futbol. Differences are put aside as masses of people pack into homes, bars, sports fields, or parks to root for a common cause.

I believe in USA. In its idealism, but more importantly in its people.

America is a mystery, one that is too vast to fit a singular definition, and that is part of its charm. The images below are an attempt to capture some of that mystery. The blanket was crafted for me by a relative, and the models are of my dear friend Anne and me. All images were shot with my Nikon D60 and edited using VSCO films. 

I believe in USA.