By: Kyle Muñoz
From October 13th through January 15th the Constance Gallery in the Helene Center will be displaying Chris Wright Evans’ artist showcase for his project, Country Mile. Evans, an Austin, Texas native living in New York City, is displaying a different realization of his project. Country Mile is a photography project that Evans worked on between 2012 and 2020, which highlights his travel through the Interstate 35 corridor in the United States and was published as a book in 2022, showing the images that Evans captured. When his book was published, Evans was able to display all his work in a gallery at The MAC in Dallas, Texas. While there, Evans was approached by Graceland Art Professor Emily Potts about displaying his work in the Constance art gallery at Graceland. In working with Potts, Evans tailored his exhibit by choosing certain images from his book and adding found object sculptures, sculptures made up of items Evans found while traveling for his project, placed together to add a new dimension to the exhibit. Another unique perk of displaying his work in the Constance gallery was the ability for Evans to display the text of the short story he wrote, and the poem “Piss Jug Blues” written by Sean Lopez, which are both part of the Country Mile book, as well as his found object sculptures. When asking Evans about the timeline for this project, he explained that many of his later works were taken during a month-long road trip as part of his final project as a master's student at the University of North Texas.
One of the things Evans discussed with me was the way that Country Mile
highlighted loneliness and isolation felt during traveling. Some of Evans' images use long exposures to capture the highways as empty, something only really seen in media with post-apocalyptic settings. Evans acknowledged that some of these aspects he captured are not as unusual since the Covid-19 pandemic occurred. He explains “Covid changed everything...it makes it more complicated, cause our world is more complicated.” It’s also important to know that all of Evans’ photography work was done before the Covid-19 pandemic. Evans acknowledged that this piece of work is seen in a different context today than it was before the pandemic. Evans explained “I think the empty highways maybe don’t read as shocking to people these days.” One thing Evans did appreciate about his exhibit being at Graceland was the university's proximity to I-35. Evans explained “it felt like [Graceland] is where Country Mile was meant to be,” explaining that he was able to have more influence on the format of this exhibit than in previous galleries and it felt right to him to have his work nearby to the place where most of his photos were captured.
The Graceland University Art Department would like to thank Jen Abraham-White and the Sustainability program, Mike Hoffman and the Graceland Media center, Jacob Starks and the F.M. Smith Library, Chase Wood at 615 graphics, and Graceland Senate for helping to bring Chris to Graceland.
Copies of Evans' book, Country Mile, can be found at the Constance Gallery and the F.M. Smith Library for anyone interested in seeing more of his works. If you are interested in seeing more of Evans' works you can check out his website, cwrightevans.com