The Artist: Laura Milkins

I grew up in a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan. Every summer, I thrived on the influx new ideas, postures and attitudes that arrived along with droves of tourists. They came to soak up some sun and sand, and brought with them a bit of Chicago or Detroit to our sleepy village.

Now I am the tourist from far away. I am the foreigner with strange notions. My Midwest nasal twang muted by Madrid, New York, Boston, Portland, Mexico City, and Tucson. I have traveled around the world, moving year after year, until I finally settled here in Tucson. Despite my travels, it has been fours years since I have been back home. I have never seen my mom’s new house. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss that big, beautiful lake.

So I am walking home.

2000 miles from Tucson to Grand Rapids, live-streaming the whole way to capture the stories of anyone who joins me for a stretch of road.

This project is dedicated to my stepdad Pete. On January 9th I talked to him over Skype. It had been forever since we had talked on the phone, but we kept up through email and Facebook. They had just gotten Skype at the farm and his dear wife suggested we try it out the next day. We had a lovely talk and I told him I was finally coming home… At the end of our conversation, I blew him a kiss and said, “I love you.” He blew kisses back to me and replied, “I love you too.”

That night he died in his sleep.

Sometimes you only get one chance to say “I love you” and wave goodbye. I imagine him drifting off that night in the loving arms of his family both near and far.

I am a small town girl. I believe in community, family and the connections that draw us together. This project is about trust, community and social networks. I am interested in the ways that technology connects and disconnects us from the people in our lives. I am interested in how a lone woman can cross the country but never truly be alone. Technology will allow me to bring friends and family on this journey home.

And I can look into the camera and say “I love you” every night.