Thomas Robert Meyers

Rural Gods and Kings

A cultural divide between urban and rural residents is not a new phenomenon. Terminologies such as “Redneck” or “City Slicker” pervade our dialogue and media. They emphasize the ways in which each group might look down on the other respectively. Often, Urban residents are characterized as given in to materialism, and being out of touch with the natural world. In contrast, there exists a trope of rural dwellers who are uneducated and living behind the times. 

Thomas Robert Meyers’ series Rural Gods and Kings presents images of subjects that have become stereotypically associated with rural life in American media. His commentary is both parts satire, and indulgence. Meyers focuses on heroes, idols, and rituals, as the topics which provide an exaggerated study of the rural America he imagines, both as an outsider, and within himself. We see American wrestling, motorcycles, guns, bikini-clad women, and sports. The scale and subversive nature of these artworks forces the viewer to confront and contemplate their own biases and infatuations about rural life in America.  

The stereotyped and perceived division between our urban centers and their surrounding countryside is on as great display now as any of the fissures in modern American society that can be seen on your television. Talk show pundits and political commentators can often be seen referring to and further enforcing perceptions between these major groupings of our society.

The city and the country however, are closely linked, and inseparable from each other. Urban developments are dependent upon the networking and provision of natural resources from their surrounding region. The economic and cultural outputs that are generated in city centers reverberate outwards. People in the United States migrate between its rural and urban landscapes frequently. We share friends and family in both of these spaces. 

As all of us Americans, we must continue to attempt to identify and communicate with one another, our common goals and aspirations; ones that are more innate than our regional differences.

About the Artist:

Thomas Robert Meyers is an upstate NY self-taught artist/photographer that has been creating since 1989. First working mainly with polaroid type 669 transfers, but then evolved into new ways of seeing and creating with new materials. Currently working with cut film, metal printing, and digital layout. His work has been exhibited in galleries, museums and publications, and pieces reside in private collections in Japan, France, Germany and the US.