The highway system, and its interlocking freeways and interstates, is Johnna Arnold’s artistic territory. She makes unexpectedly appealing images out of places where we unavoidably spend much of our lives – especially in California – but never really comprehend. The painted lanes on the freeway, like real world manifestations of road maps, are symbolic elements that are rarely seen for what they are – infrastructural land use and commonly shared social space. We zoom past at inhuman speeds, only slowing down when gridlock traf¸c forces us to. It is then that it’s possible to notice the amazing range of people who share the roads from the safety bubble of their vehicles, as well as the curious qualities of expressway architecture – the textured walls and exhaust addled landscaping.

In her photographs and video installation, Arnold focuses in on details of perspective and movement. Her static images are formalized views from the car window and they point to an amazing range within the perceived sameness of the road. In her large-scale wall drawing, Arnold chronicles her daily travels, constructing a map that evolves over time. Her dynamic video piece offers a view from above Interstate 580, recreating the abstraction generated by vehicles and their routes, and the way they pass too quickly, in both directions. They’re blurs of color, sometimes recognizable, but more often not. In this form, they become a mesmerizing vision of cultural alienation and modern life, and one that taps into an almost universal experience with genuine awe.