Americans Looking In

large red wooden compass in the center
Americans Looking In (2020) Center for Book Arts

Curated by Emilie Ahern and Sherri Littlefield

The Americans, by Robert Frank, was a highly influential book in post-war American photography. The photographs were notable for their distanced view of both high and low strata of American society and the book as a whole created a complicated portrait of the period, interpreted as skeptical of contemporary values and evocative of ubiquitous loneliness.

The curators of this exhibition, Emilie Ahern & Sherri Littlefield, have reflected on what it means to be “American.” Having multicultural backgrounds and being raised in the States has given them both moments of confusion and frustration, and has led them to wonder what this country has to do with personal identity. When forming this exhibition, the curators presented themselves, artists, editors, leaders and everyday-people with the question – “What is American culture today, and what does an American look like?”

They ask the viewer to consider the question with them starting through the eyes of the artists in this exhibition, leading to self reflection upon exiting the space.


Thomas Allen, Uriel Cidor, Ana Paula Cordeiro, Daniela Deeg + Cynthia Lollis, Ke Francis, Jon Feinstein, Kris Graves Project (featuring Nadiya Nacorda, Kenneth Wrye and MaryLynne Wrye, Alina van Ryzin, Kiliii Yüyan, Courtney Asztalos & Michael W. Hicks, Tess Roby, Jed Devine, Hayley Austin), Iris Grimm, Amos Kennedy, Paul Kessel, Shane Lavalette, Jamie Martinez, Greg Miller, Andrea Modica, Tammy Nguyen, Iviva Olenick, Eric Pickersgill, Purgatory Pie Press, Religious Leaders, E. Brady Robinson, Arlene Rush, Anastasia Samoylova, Ashok Sinha, Brian Taylor, Treat America Project featuring Paul Sisson, Bubblegum & Whiskey, Lisa Toto, Jym Davis, Ingrid V. Wells

Exhibition Views

large red wooden compass in the center
Americans Looking In (2020) Center for Book Arts
book sitting on its tail showing front and back covers with bright red and blue patterns of abstracted hebrew letters on yellow paper boards
Greeting from America (2019) Uriel Cidor
abstracted hebrew letters on yellow and blue paper
Greeting from America (2019) Uriel Cidor
red and black accordion book displayed as a star shape
12:38 - 14:16 (2006) Cynthia Lollis and Daniela Deeg
Octagonal shaped book with woodcuts and letter press printed story
Dixie Compass (1996) Ke Francis
Slipcase with eight different colored books
Lost III (2019) Kriss Graves Project
yellow book cover
A Special Kind of Double by Nadiya Nacorda, Lost III (2019) Kriss Graves Project
blue book cover
Afghanistan 1966-74 by Kenneth Wrye and MaryLynn Wrye, Lost III (2019) Kriss Graves Project
two prints say "nobody's free until everybody's free." and "Justice is a special privilege for blacks"
Prints by Amos Kennedy
natural linen book cover
One Sun, One Shadow (2016) Shane Lavalette
spread with Black man kneeling in an empty basketball court
One Sun, One Shadow (2016) Shane Lavalette
white book with an ash wednesday-like charcoal cross on the cover
Unto Dust (2018) Gregg Miller
Eliza Lucas Pinckney (2016) Iviva Olenick
green cover with the shadow of an alligator
FloodZone (2020) Anastasia Samoylova
spread of a wooden platform on a marsh
FloodZone (2020) Anastasia Samoylova
2"x2" book with the words we spy u.s.a. in red on the cover
We Spy USA (1998-9) Purgatory Pie Press
moiré patters created by printing two hardware store screens over one another
Moiré Hardware Accordions (1997) Dikko Faust, Purgatory Pie Press
spread of desert road with a television in the middle
The West, Then and Now (2008) Brian Taylor
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