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Desire Path (2015)
Photo Mural & Exibition 

The unplanned pedestrian trails created by a desire to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. Often found adjacent to parking lots or bisecting green lawns, these shortcuts provide a record of human agency, professional failure and collective activity on the University's campus.

College of Environment + Design
The University of Georgia
March 19 - April 18, 2015
76 x 8 ft, Tyvex print

Essay from the Curator

It was a warm day in late December and at 4:00pm the sun was starting its descent. I was in Gwinnet County GA, a suburb of Atlanta where the San Francisco based artist, Keith Wilson, grew up and was visiting his family. We met to discuss his exhibition Desire Path, an examination of the unplanned pedestrian trails created by a desire to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. We worked out some kinks in the project and then Wilson said matter-of-factly, “Would you like a tour of the suburbs?”

There was a kind of a flat golden color to the sky as we drove from one housing community to the next. Names like “Elyse Springs” and “Misty Valley Estates” marked the entranceways. Wilson explained that due to the housing boom and then subsequent bust, many of the homes were uninhabited, the subdivision incomplete. We walked down a sidewalk, houses on either side. Only very slight differences distinguished one house from the next. “We grew up calling these kinds of houses ‘5, 4, and a door’,” Wilson remarked. “You’ll notice they all have five windows on the top level, four on the next, and a door in the center.”

The trail continued but the houses suddenly stopped. A field of wild grasses had taken over, hovering just at the edge of a neat row of houses. Every few steps Keith pointed out power lines or plumbing fixtures set up for houses never to be built. A suburban ghost town. We drove to an overlook just as the sun was setting; the sky had taken on a strong glow. We left the car and Keith pointed to a line of identical houses descending one after the other in perfect symmetry. It was breathtaking.

Such a tour that reveals transcendence within the ordinary is the keystone to Wilson’s work, which aims to open our eyes to the beauty and strangeness, both ironic and sincere, that surrounds us. Desire Path is a mural that displays a tension between free will and what city planners have dreamed up for the pedestrian. Last spring, Wilson spent several days on the UGA campus mapping out and photographing the lines created by the pathways. “I think there is a lot to learn from them,” he states. “Not just how we, as rebellious individuals then mindless herds move in the world but that also maybe the direct way isn’t the best route. Perhaps the planners are on to something. It can be good to wander.”

Katie Geha
Director, Dodd Galleries
Lamar Dodd School of Art
The University of Georgia