Land development, and people’s interaction with nature is a topic that has been much on our minds of late, with the opening just last Wednesday of our new (and if we may say so ourselves, fantastic!) group show, fittingly titled Land Use Survey.
Thus, when we read that the people of Johnson County, Kansas have plans in the works to open a National Museum of Suburban History, the news certainly piqued our interest. While suburbia may seem like a distant, hazy memory to all you New Yorkers out there—somewhere you triumphantly left for a better life here in the city—it would seem that Suburban America is becoming a place of increasing interest, and even a concentration for academic study. For one, Long Island’s Hofstra University is now home to The Center for Suburban Studies, which only leads us to ask: could Suburban Studies become the trendy new Urban Studies? The program writes:
Suburban America has been the butt of jokes and stereotypes for decades. The portrayal persists in Hollywood, which continues to zing the 'burbs with over-the-top tales of conniving, desperate housewives and wayward soccer moms in bed with Mexican drug lords.
Housing Development at Different Stages, Las Vegas, NV, March 2005 by Alex Maclean
It is here that we'll implore you to stop wondering longingly when the next season of Weeds is starting, and pause to consider this astonishing statistic: more than 50% of Americans reside in suburban communities, and these communities are rapidly changing, moving quickly away from the stereotypes with which they are so often associated. As Alan Scher Zagier reports in an article on the forthcoming museum:
Change your mind about what the suburbs are...They're not just bedroom communities for center-city workers. They're not just rich enclaves. They're not all economically stable. They're not all exclusively white.
These are not your father's suburbs of the 1950s and 1960s.
These are just a few tidbits to consider over the next couple of months when you (hopefully!) swing by to see Land Use Survey at JBG, and as you eagerly anticipate the August 3rd release of the new Arcade Fire album, very appropriately titled…The Suburbs.