• Clayton Meyer
  • Clayton Meyer’s papier-mache moose

There are some artists who can never be disentangled from their geographic reality—artists whose aesthetic eventually becomes synonymous with a certain emotional topography. Think of Toulouse-Lautrec and the rotting splendor of Montmartre, or the vapid expanse of Ed Ruscha’s Southern California. For me, this phenomenon has always seemed particularly pronounced in artists from the midwest; I think that’s because artists tend to reflect what I find pronounced in people from the midwest. There’s an ethic of self-effacement and a deep-seated desire to please; people from the midwest are generally nice. Not everyone, obviously—we have our fair share of assholes—but midwesterners seem to be united by an inclination to be slightly less self-absorbed than our counterparts on either coast. We’re told as children that it’s not nice to talk about yourself, and as we grow into adults, that little adage can go a long way in shaping our worldview. In an artist, it can translate into a relative lack of ego, a willingness to deflect attention away from self and towards the surrounding world.