UW–Madison’s Tomiko Jones, an assistant professor in the School of Education’s Art Department, has written an essay about her long-form photography-based project, “These Grand Places,” for the digital magazine Edge Effects.

Jones’ photography and multidisciplinary installations explore social, cultural, and geopolitical transitions, considering the twin crises of too much and too little in the age of climate change. Running themes within her work include ecological concerns, questions of belonging, and activated cultural traditions.

In the essay, “Imagining National Belonging in American Landscapes,” Jones discusses the origins of “These Grand Places” in the road trips of her childhood and in her lived experience as a person of multiracial identity. “From elementary school to graduate studies, I often could not find myself in the history I was taught, the artwork I saw, or the archives I studied,” Jones writes. “The desire to repair the feeling of being outside official histories and search for a sense of belonging has ultimately defined my creative practice and shaped my scholarly research.”

“My project ‘These Grand Places’ arguably began during my graduate studies as an investigation into the construct of identifying land as ‘ours’,” Jones adds. “Photography, as an invention and tool, played a significant role in Manifest Destiny, in hegemonic narratives of how the nation was made, identified, and ‘conquered’.”

Jones notes the project, which got its start through a Seed Grant through the School of Education’s Grand Challenges grant program, was also informed by her participation in the First Nations Cultural Landscape Tour, led by Omar Poler.