The first edition of Train Tracts, in 2008, brought together ten artists and writers from around the country who collaborated on the different chapters— all themed around travel, and all incorporating some traditional printmaking techniques. Each artist created an edition of between three and twenty handmade artist books/pamphlets (aka tracts).

The finished tracts were then mailed to volunteers from all over the country who were asked to take the journals to train stations and hand them to strangers. This part was the hardest to document, but often the most profound. Striking up conversations with strangers, and often experiencing their reactions to the art involved a lot of vulnerability and frequently resulted in unexpectedly moving connections.

The train riders were asked to— first of all— enjoy the chapter, and then, if they felt so moved, to write comments, hand them to other passengers, or drop them in a mailbox so that the chapters could join their fellow tracts back in Utah. The idea was to give people a moment of beauty and inclusion in a wider creative community. At the end of the project there was the delight of getting the journals mailed back: scribbled on by strangers, full of stories and mysteries.

The technology of 2008 provided a kind of subtle compare and contrast between the 19th century power of trains and the 21st century power of the internet to make connections between people. A decade later, in 2018, there’s a whole new world of connection available in social media. But there’s also a whole new level of disconnection between individuals in American culture. The primary intent for this project is to create connection and conversation between strangers. It’s an invitation to connect.