Nonfiction Book Award Status: GOLD
Why do story and photograph work so well together? How is it that a wonderful story told to me on a front porch can be enhanced so much by black and white photography in a way that the human brain responds viscerally and takes in the entire world?
When I first stepped onto the driveway at 4289 Michael Street, my life was changed by Alberta and General Sims, the royalty who held court at the community gatherings in that ribbon of cement leading to a carport under which the stories of six generations flowed out with laughter and shouting. Once Alberta said to me, “You know, everything stays in your rememory.” And when my daughters were born, and Dwayne Sims and I brought them to the driveway, they learned what true loyalty and kinship meant.
All of the places in More Dreamers of the Golden Dream mean that to the people whose stories and images are here — whether it’s the iconic Zacatecas Café and the Medina family that feeds thousands; the parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe tracing ashes onto the foreheads of the faithful; the boxers in the ring housed inside the old kindergarten building of Lincoln School, once Irving School, where Alberta stood with her friend Susan Strickland; the sidewalk in front of Orange Valley Lodge #13 set with folding chairs and narrative.
These dreamers and their dreams are eternal, as long as there is smoke and laughter, hymnals and ringing, hands lifted to spirits and hands holding disks of ground corn, when all feels golden. As long as there are hands slamming dominoes onto a shaking table, lacing gloves and considering how to duck and move, and someone calling out a story, we are eternal. Let the circle be unbroken, as the new generations of dreamers walk on our sidewalks, enter into our doors, and tell their own stories of rememory and love.
Susan Straight was born in Riverside, California, where she still lives with her family. Her memoir, In the Country of Women (Catapult Books, 2020) was a national bestseller. It was a Best Book of the Year by NPR and CodeSwitch, longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and a Finalist for the Clara Johnson Prize for Women’s Literature. Her new novel, Mecca, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in March 2022. She has published eight novels — Highwire Moonand I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All the Potswere national bestsellers, and her trilogy of one family’s journey from slavery to California includes A Million Nightingales, Take One Candle, and Between Heaven and Here. She has been a Finalist for the National Book Award and the National Magazine Award; she received the Edgar Prize for Best Mystery Story, the O Henry Prize, the Lannan Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Harper’s, The Believer, O Magazine, Real Simple, Alta, Reader’s Digest, Family Circleand other journals. She is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UC Riverside.
Douglas McCulloh is an artist, writer, and senior curator at the California Museum of Photography. His work has been shown nationally and internationally in more than 250 exhibitions including Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City; Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles; Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans; and Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. McCulloh’s most recent books are In the Sunshine of Neglect (Inlandia Institute), and The Great Picture: Making the World’s Largest Photograph(Hudson Hills Press, New York). Exhibitions curated by McCulloh have shown in a range of venues including Kennedy Center for the Arts, Washington D.C.; Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg; Flacon Art Center, Moscow; Center for Visual Art, Denver, Colorado; Manuel Álvarez Bravo Center, Oaxaca; Sejong Center, Seoul, South Korea; and, of course, UCR ARTS: California Museum of Photography. He is an honors graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and holds an M.F.A. from Claremont Graduate University.
Delphine Sims is a Ph.D. candidate in the History of Art Department at UC Berkeley where she studies the history of photography in the Americas. In 2019, she was the Mellon Curatorial Intern at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) during which time she helped organize the exhibitions Unlimited: Recent Gifts from the William Goodman and Victoria Belco Collectio nand About Things Loved: Blackness and Belonging. In 2018, she was a curatorial intern at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in the photography department. Previously, Delphine was a curatorial assistant at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. She has worked on numerous museum exhibitions and contributed writings to several publications including Laurie Brown: Earth Edges(California Museum of Photography), New Time: Art and Feminisms in the Twenty-first Century(BAMPFA); “Sprouts from the Concrete” (Mattemagazine), and “Where We Art” (The Believer magazine). Delphine, the daughter of Susan Straight, was born in Riverside, California.