Heidi Lender

Heidi Lender

Road Trip

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America and I never really got along. For more than half of my adult life,  I have lived in far-flung places that have shielded me from the mass consumption, packaged foods and large living that I perceived was the United States. This summer, with the help of my camera, I set out to revisit that relationship.

After my long-time partner and I broke up last fall, I found myself single, with no home base, heartbroken and lost. Ever the gypsy, I imagined the open road would give me some direction and jumpstart my creative juices. And, so, with a wink to Jack Kerouac, I hopped in a rented red GMC with my dog, Bubba, and an Adele CD I acquired at our first Starbucks stop, and began a 35-day road trip through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada, in the hopes of making peace with America — and perhaps finding some peace within myself.

As a self-portrait photographer, I planned to capture my personal struggles while cruising Route 66 into the dry, cactus-flecked fields of the Southwest, but, thankfully, things never turn out as expected. Instead, while scouting locations or setting up my tripod, I discovered empty and enchanting miles of sandstone rising from the highway, mesmerizing mountains peaking in the lonely distance, and encountered the most eclectic cast of characters – all Americans, in America. Even though the road has a past and a future, pure present tense and beauty was all that existed, as I said yes to whatever experience presented itself. It was transformational at every level. This series, peppered with iPhone and Instagram images, serves as a visual scrapbook of my wondrous discoveries.

A handmade book, Chasing Pavement, is in the works.

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

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