America Composes Itself
by Sam Gould

Sam Gould's essay collection spans the decade of the 2010s and its fringes, examining topics and histories that challenge us to share our political, psychological and physical terrain together. This book feels written half on the streets and half in the library, or library of the mind, once some of but not all the dust has settled. From meditations on art and music threading through America's turbulent unfolding, like "In the Pines," to a surprising account of uncanny events in the author's Minneapolis neighborhood in "Trash," so much of our shared experience comes into focus: reading and readers, the uses of crisis, social media and its deficiencies, gathering around a table, teen dérives, the Occupy movement, The Public, and much more. Gould's metaphor-rich prose reaches out and asks questions about how we can live, dream, think and act together without papering over our essential disagreements and disjunctions. If this book is a film, we are its soundtrack.

An artist, writer, and editor / organizer, Sam Gould co-founded the cultural collaborative Red76 (2000–2015), an artistic and social configuration on the forefront of the burgeoning movement that became known as Social Practice. Focused on ideas around publication as an act of public making, his work often centers aspects of sociality, education, and encountering the political within daily life. In 2015 he established Beyond Repair, an “expanded publication,” functioning as a long now site of questioning and social collaboration with the aim to move past the rhetoric of “people and places that need fixing,” and towards a space of reflective self-determination and collaborative creation among his neighbors in Minneapolis’ 9th Ward. In the orbit of Beyond Repair he is the director and co-founder of Confluence: An East Lake Studio for Community Design along with longtime collaborator Duaba Unenra. An incubator for Social Craft, Confluence Studio believes “neighbors make neighborhoods, people make place.”

Gould was a founding faculty member within the graduate department for Social Practice at the California College of the Arts, the first such department to be established in the United States, as well as a full-time visiting professor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He was a recipient of a 2014 McKnight Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship and a 2017 McKnight Foundation Mid-Career grant.

He has lectured extensively within the United States and abroad at institutions such as Harvard University, the New Museum, and SF MoMA; held residencies at the Headlands Center for the Arts, The Luminary, Villa Montalvo, and elsewhere; and has had projects commissioned by institutions such as Creative Time, the Walker Arts Center, Printed Matter, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and many others. The complete issues of Journal of Radical Shimming, the publication that he edited and designed for Red76, is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.


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