On Jennifer Reeder…

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | September 24, 2014

I’m delighted to publish SAIC graduate student Cassie Carpenter’s short text on why she, as a woman who traces her roots to the Midwest, is so excited to see Jennifer Reeder’s work at Conversation at the Edge (CATE) this week.

Still from A Million Miles Away (Jennifer Reeder, 2014). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from A Million Miles Away (Jennifer Reeder, 2014). Courtesy of the artist.

Regional identity has always been somewhat of a challenge for me. I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but spent my formative years in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. While I spent twelve years on the East coast, I felt strongly tied to my Midwestern roots. There is something about life here that is complex in its assumed simplicity, an attribute that tethered me to the Midwest. Since my return to “the heartland”, I have immersed myself in the narratives that construct the ethos of the region. In my search, I’ve found that the heartfelt tales of honest hard work and pulling one’s self up by one’s own bootstraps only scratch the surface of the Midwest landscape.

This is why I am excited to see Jennifer Reeder’s A Million Miles Away (2013) as part of her show at CATE this week. The film peers into the lives of adolescent girls in small town Ohio and explores some of the complexities of coming-of-age in such an environment. I’m interested to see the ways in which she engages her narrative craftsmanship to expose the volatile moment of entering adulthood in a place fraught with failures but determined to survive them. Similarly, my own search to understand my connection to the Midwest has been integral to my embrace of adulthood. The opportunity to explore that experience through Reeder’s lens is thrilling.

Cassie Carpenter is a third year, dual-degree graduate candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Having roots in both Milwaukee and Philadelphia, she brings a diverse set of values to her professional career. Her unique perspective has contributed to projects at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Evanston Art Center, Miller Beach Arts and Creative District, and the Sullivan Galleries.

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