Morgan Lumpkins - ” Whats does it mean to American in the 21st century.”
Young Americans is a portraiture series by the Artist Sheila Pree Bright who explores the view of Generation Y 18-25 years of age by allowing each sitter to perceived themselves posing with the American Flag giving them a platform to voice their opinions about America. She sees this series as a key to understanding not only our present moment but also the future of America. Bright says, “Whether born in America or migrating from other countries, this ethnically diverse, politically engaged group of young people express a great sense of pride about their country. Yet they are still questioning: “What does it mean to be an American in the 21st Century.” In this interview Morgan Lumpkins from Los Angeles California is speaking on her experience with the project which premier at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta in 2008.
What does it mean to be American in the 21st Century.
Generation Y is the most influential generation since the Baby Boomers. Market research describes Generation Y as individuals who are civic-minded and socially conscious as consumers and employees.
In the last presidential campaign, they were called to action for their vote, sought after for their purchasing power and watched closely by sociologists and historians for insight into the way this generation will shape the future. A generation rising, they have grown-up observing the war on terror and the 1st Gulf war. They are the future leaders to run America.
In my ‘Young Americans’ portraiture series, I explore their views as Americans. I choose the United States flag as a symbol for each sitter. During the photo shoot, I asked each sitter how they perceived themselves poising with the American Flag. After they wrote statements about America, I photographed them with the flag.
As an observer, I learned Generation Y is a diverse group effected by the impact of events such as, the 911 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina and immigration challenges. I discovered each sitter personal experiences created their owned brand of social consciousness.
” To be an American is to be at war. Every aspect of our lives is touched by far away violence, and we cannot help but benefit from the deaths of others. A home, the commercialization and eroticization of violence is changing the way we look at money, the way we look at sexuality. In this image, I present myself as a sacrifice on the altar of contemporary American Masculinity, willingly taking the role of both subject and object”
“America is powerful and dominant, both for the better and for the worse. America influences, inspires, and enrages a myriad of people and governments. America has the potential to guide the world towards a sustainable future, where equality, justice, and environmental health are maximized. America also has the potential to further divide the peoples of the world and create a global tension that will inhibit teamwork. At this critical moment, America has begun to move down the divisive path. Hopefully the consequences of this path will be recognized by the new Congress. The forces of globalization and environmental degradation are too great to be ignored and a global and unified perspective is needed in order to deal with them effectively.”
“I wake up in the morning and thank God that I live in America-the land of opportunity and the home of the brave. I wake up knowing that my country has provided me with the very cloak of freedom I wrap around me each day. I wake up knowing that I am can be and do anything I choose, and that others have sacrificed their lives so that I may do so.
I wake up in the morning and salute my flag, a symbol of America’s courage, honor and strength. And I pray each day for my service men and women fighting to keep those symbols alive, burning in our hearts.
In America, if you can dream it, you can be it. Being an American means taking the good with the bad and having the bravery to make a difference in someone else life. America is pride, courage and peace for all. The country I will always call home—the greatest place on earth.”
“Home. A place to indulge your ambition (if you choose to). Tall trees, big skies, icy snow. The ability to be dissatisfied. For better or worse, the top of the world. Maybe that’s arrogant. Geo-politically influential. Maybe that’s pretentious. I don’t know. If I ever figure it out I’ll let you know.”