In June 18, 1938, a little more than three weeks after starting The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck wrote in his journal,
If I could do this book properly it would be one of the really fine books and a truly American book. But I am assailed with my own ignorance and inability. I’ll just have to work from a background of these. Honesty. If I can keep an honesty it is all I can expect of my poor brain…If I can do that it will be all my lack of genius can produce. For no one else knows my lack of ability the way I do. I am pushing against it all the time.
When Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath he was trying to tell a story – a story that was not his own. He tried to tell this story with respect and authenticity – to give voice to millions of Americans whose voices were muffled as they lost their homes and livelihoods to financial and environmental devastation.
2013 marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Grapes of Wrath, and to celebrate, the National Steinbeck Center has invited three artists to hit the road: playwright Octavio Solis, documentary filmmaker PJ Palmer, and linoleum block artist (ahem, me!) We’ll be heading out on a ten-day trip (October 4-14, 2013) from Sallisaw, Oklahoma to Weedpatch, California as part of a team, leading The Grapes of Wrath inspired art workshops at cultural arts and educational organizations. We’ll also be actively engaging people we meet on the road in an exploration of modern day stories of the human experience of struggle and resilience and collecting oral histories.
We’re excited to announce the confirmed organizational partners where programs, workshops and oral history collection will be taking place along The Grapes of Wrath Journey this October:
•Oklahoma History Center: http://www.okhistory.org/
•Oklahoma Oral History Research Program at Oklahoma State University: http://www.library.okstate.edu/oralhistory/
•Amarillo Museum of Art: http://www.amarilloart.org/
•KACV, Amarillo: http://www.kacv.org/
•Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum: http://www.amarilloart.org/
•Albuquerque Museum of Art and History: http://albuquerquemuseum.org/
•Coconino Center for the Arts: http://www.culturalpartners.org/
· Pioneer Museum/Arizona Historical Society: http://www.arizonahistoricalsociety.org/
· CSU Bakersfield: http://www.csub.edu/
We will be blogging throughout the Journey, and invite public collaboration and feedback through multiple social media channels. This entire trip will be documented and shared as part of the 75th Anniversary celebration in 2014.
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