America’s Promise

Post 2528
11″x15″ print on 90 lb Fabriano cold press watercolor paper, 2021

A dry pool behind a chain link fence, worn down buildings in the desert, storm clouds loom, flowers bloom in the crusty soil, Ric Kasini Kadour’s America’s Promise considers broken places under late-stage capitalism as a way to ignite a thirst for caring about our communities.

About the Series

As part of my 2020-2021 Curatorial Research Fellowship from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, I have been driving around the continental United States visiting historical sites. Taking old highways and byways, I began to take note of the devastation left by late-stage capitalism. Communities, once thriving and dynamic, were laid bare when new Interstates shifted transportation routes miles to the north or south or when manufacturing was moved to sites with access to cheaper, more exploitable labor. This is what happens in a society where people work solely for their own gains. When the people can no longer extract wealth from a place, they move on and the community dies.

In the tradition of the great early 20th century documentary photographers who portrayed poverty for the Farm Service Agency, I wanted to capture these places as a way to start a conversation about what makes a healthy community. When Kristina Ricketts and Nick T. Place studied what makes communities work, they found, “Four significant factors were determined to set these successful communities apart from those less viable—effective communication, development of social capital, community engagement, and collaboration—across and within communities.” In other words, people worked together. Money, investment, productivity, and capital are not the cornerstones of viable communities. Caring is.

In 1909, Herbert Croly wrote about this in The Promise of American Life: “No doubt Americans have in some measure always conceived their national future as an ideal to be fulfilled. Their anticipations have been uplifting as well as confident and vainglorious…If its promise is anything more than a vision of power and success, that addition must derive its value from a purpose; because in the moral world the future exists only as a workshop in which a purpose is to be realized.”

America’s Promise is a folio of thirty photographs. The titular photograph shows a dry swimming pool behind a chain link fence. Twenty-eight photographs show worn down or abandoned buildings in the desert. Storm clouds loom in the sky. The last photograph shows flowers blooming in the crusty soil. For me, this series is not about poverty and hopelessness. America’s Promise is about remembering what good this country can do: build a town in a desert. My hope is that it will ignite a thirst for caring about our communities.

Paradise Cafe
11″x15″ print on 90 lb Fabriano cold press watercolor paper, 2021


Question: The style of these photographs feels familiar. Is that intentional?

I decided early on that I wanted to use a visual language familiar to the viewer so I turned to the deadpan photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher and shot the structures in that style. I focus on those buildings with architecture that is Mid-century Modern to contemporary because I want the photographs to feel familiar.

Question: Where were these photographs taken?

I am choosing not to disclose the name of the town. These buildings are ubiquitous across the American landscape. I want the viewer to think about this community as an Anytown or Everytown, USA.

More importantly, I don’t want to shame the people of this town. While shooting I got caught in a hail storm and I moved my car under a carport next to a bank. There I met a woman doing the same. I asked her why she lived there and what she liked about the town. She quite flatly said she had always lived there and didn’t want to live anywhere else, but that the town didn’t have much going on. She didn’t think it would change. I felt her hopelessness.

Prada 1 & 2
two, 11″x15″ prints on 90 lb Fabriano cold press watercolor paper, 2021

Question: Two of the photographs refer to the fashion house Prada. Why is that?

This diptych references the permanent installation, Prada Marfa, by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset on Highway 90 in Valentine, Texas. About two weeks before making the America’s Promise photographs, I visited Prada Marfa and was intrigued by the spectacle of a closed, luxury brand store in the isolated Texas grazing land. By titling these two photographs Prada 1 & 2, I wanted the diptych to parody Elmgreen and Draget’s installation and bring into the conversation themes of gentrification, tourism, and the role of art in economic revitalization.

Question: Aren’t these photographs another example of poverty porn?

I held back this series for months thinking about this question. The difference between images of poverty as a narrative about others and these photographs is the context in which I am asking them to be seen. I am not asking the viewer to be titillated by the spectacle of abandoned buildings. I chose not to include people in these photographs because I want the viewer to consider these structures as their own and to imagine what it would mean to care about this community. I want the viewer to see similar structures in their own community and to wonder why that restaurant is shut down or that bookstore is no longer open.

The City Store
11″x15″ print on 90 lb Fabriano cold press watercolor paper, 2021

Question: What do you want to accomplish by showing these photographs?

Discussion. I hope this series allows us to unpack what is happening in America in late-stage capitalism. Ricketts and Place’s findings about the relationship between viable communities and caring is urgent and timely. Croly’s ideas about America are not without their problems but, in 1909, he was thinking about some of the same problems we face today and offers some philosophical insight on how to approach them. Economic discontent is driving our troubled civic discourse and fueling extremism.

When we think about income inequality, we often think about people and our thinking about people is often being distorted by those in power who use racism and outdated Protestant notions of work ethic to divide and manipulate. I wanted to create a path forward that allowed us to think about communities, what makes them viable, secure, and safe. Our focus on the “who” in the civic discourse leads us quickly to “them” and “others” and away from “us.” My hope is that a sense of place can be what Croly refers to as that “workshop in which a purpose is to be realized.” That is not to skirt the issues of white supremacy and racial disparities, rather I want to walk into those conversations in a different way than we have in the past. Ultimately, the promise of America needs to be one made to all people and not a select few.

Ricketts, K., & Place, N.T. (2009, April). Making communities more viable: Four essential factors for successful community leadership. ResearchGate.
Croly, Herbert. (1909). The Promise of American Life. Macmillan.



The series consists of thirty, 11″x15″ prints on 90 lb Fabriano cold press watercolor paper. Edition of 5 plus one artist proof. Signed and numbered on back. (Edition 5 is a variable series where each print has been interrupted with a collage element.) In exhibition, the prints are presented in 13″x17″ frames. INQUIRE TO PURCHASE


The zine, America’s Promise, presents the photographs with text selected from The Promise of American Life by Herbert Croly (1909).

Details: 32 pages | 7”x5” | saddle-stitched booklet | 2021 | ISBN 978-1-927587-54-6 | AVAILABLE HERE

Finding Gold

Gold in the Bark of the Locust Tree by Ric Kasini Kadour
20″ x 30″; archival print with 18 carat gold leafing; 2018, Edition of 3

Finding Gold

Ten photographs by Ric Kasini Kadour

A time capsule, the Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, Vermont was designated a National Historic Landmark for its Underground Railroad history. Between 1791 and 1961, the site was the home of the Robinson family, abolitionists, farmers, artists, and authors who lived a vision of America fading from present day memory. They were entrepreneurial and resilient. They cared about the land, community, and social justice. On the ninety-acre property, an 18th Century farmhouse is surrounded by various outbuildings and foundations, old structures that tell the story of how the land was used.

Gold on These Blades of Grass by the Pond by Ric Kasini Kadour
20″ x 30″; archival print with 18 carat gold leafing; 2018, Edition of 3

For the series “Finding Gold”, Kadour photographed the property around the Rokeby Museum. In the the studio, he decollaged the subjects and replaced them with 18-karat gold leafing.

In doing this, Kadour sets up a game with the viewer. One could view these pictures as a critique of how we are in the world, how as we move through the world, we can be so distracted by gold–a metaphor for money, time, media, gossip–that we may fail to see simple things that are beautiful and meaningful. One could also view these pictures as a instruction, a way of being in the world in an active state of attention. Kadour encourages the viewer to redefine for themselves what gold means, to notice the small, simple, beautiful things for ourselves…to find our own.

The prints of the 20” x 30” photographs are hand-embellished with 18 carat gold leafing and issued in an edition of three.

Gold on These Grapes Turning Sweet on the Vine by Ric Kasini Kadour
20″ x 30″; archival print with 18 carat gold leafing; 2018, Edition of 3

Artist Statement

In his 1899 In New England Fields and Woods article, “October Days”, Rowland Evans Robinson wrote about the land around the Rokeby, “How sharp the dark shadows are cut against the sunlit fields, and in their gloom how brightly shine the first fallen leaves and the starry bloom of the asters. In cloudy days and even when rain is falling the depths of the woods are not dark, for the bright foliage seems to give forth light and casts no shadows beneath the lowering sky. The scarlet maples burn, the golden….”

Gold on the Old Barbed Wire Running through the Forest by Ric Kasini Kadour
20″ x 30″; archival print with 18 carat gold leafing; 2018, Edition of 3

In Fall, I walked the land around the Rokeby, down trails that run along the old stone wall and up to the ridge where a clearing was cut to lend a view of the rolling fields that spill out to Lake Champlain. New York’s Adirondacks towered in the background. What fruit remained from summer clung to branches and vines. When I walk with my camera, I tend to look at the land differently. I seek out moments: a blade of grass, an interesting pile of rocks. I try to look for what isn’t obvious. The pursuit of subject becomes a different kind of meditation. It becomes hunting and gathering rather than an exercise in art making. So many little rewards come to me when I engage the world in this way, when I move through the land with this engaged looking.

Gold in This Woodpecker Hole by Ric Kasini Kadour
20″ x 30″; archival print with 18 carat gold leafing; 2018, Edition of 3

I call this series of photographs with applied gold leaf, “Finding Gold”, because it comes from this act of searching and prospecting, but it is also a message to the viewer, to seek out these things, to move through the land with an attentive eye and marvel at the lonely burst of flowers, the single apple dangling from a stem, the lone tree reaching up across a scene. Let your eye follow the rusty string of barbed wire over rocks and in between the brush. Find the old fence post, the woodpecker holes, and gold in the bar of the locust trees.

Gold on This Fence Post by Ric Kasini Kadour
20″ x 30″; archival print with 18 carat gold leafing; 2018, Edition of 3

Rowland wrote with great poetry about this land. “Fields as green as when the summer birds caroled above them, woods more gorgeous with innumerable hues and tints of ripening leaves than a blooming parterre, are spread beneath the azure sky, whose deepest color is reflected with intenser blue in lake and stream. In them against this color are set the scarlet and gold….”

Gold on This Flower by Ric Kasini Kadour
20″ x 30″; archival print with 18 carat gold leafing; 2018, Edition of 3
Gold on This Tree Down by the Sheep Dip by Ric Kasini Kadour
20″ x 30″; archival print with 18 carat gold leafing; 2018, Edition of 3
Gold on These Vines Growing off the Red Trail by Ric Kasini Kadour
20″ x 30″; archival print with 18 carat gold leafing; 2018, Edition of 3
Gold on This Apple Still on the Tree by Ric Kasini Kadour
20″ x 30″; archival print with 18 carat gold leafing; 2018, Edition of 3

18 Random Postcards: These Lights and Shades

Between 2010 and 2012, I made 226 photographs under a project I called “These Lights and Shades.” I took inspiration from the lines of a Walt Whitman poem, “These lights and shades, this drama of the whole, This common curtain of the face contain’d in me for me, in you for you, in each for each,… This heart’s geography’s map…” One of Whitman’s last poems, he wrote it upon seeing a portrait of himself by the English illustrator William J. Linton. Though not Whitman’s intended meaning, I’ve always preferred to read “Out from Behind This Mask” as a poem about two former lovers passing in the street. On seeing each other, they remember the lifetime they shared. Passion flashes between them and then memories and then they move on.

The moment stirred by Whitman’s poem is akin to those moments when I want to take a picture. Some bold colors, an interesting composition, texture, light, mood…all these things come together and I pull out my camera and take a shot or two. This is not as much art making as it is visual journaling. It is a way to move through the world, to acknowledge a moment, and to move on through the day.

The original pack of 18 postcards.

As an affordable art product, I printed these photographs as postcards and put them into packs of 18. The brown envelopes had a white sticker on the front and one of the postcards on the back. I’d always select one of the better images for the outside of the package.

These were sold at various fairs and pop-ups and though ARTSHOP. In 2013, when I started doing INSTANT ARTSHOP, a version of the ARTSHOP project as an intervention outside of an art context, I took 18 Random Postcards to flea markets, grocery stores, malls, and other public spaces that are separate from contemporary art spaces. Each pack of postcards contained a random selection. Because it was impossible to collect all of them and because people never knew what was inside the envelope, the act of selling led to some great conversation. The purchaser needed to perform a leap of faith to commit. Many did.


The Complete Set

The complete set of 226 postcards.

This collection of 226 photographs is the complete set of postcards. Only five complete sets have been made. The Complete Set of 18 Random Postcards is available at ARTSHOP here.


Postcards manifested as a grid.

Each postcard is 5.5″x5.5″. The full set of 226 photographs exhibits in a grid that is 105″x105″ or in a long presentation that is 35″x315″, 26 linear feet.

Single Random Postcards & Packs of 18 Random Postcards

Packs of 18 Random Postcards are available at ARTSHOP here. If you would like a single postcard sent to you (for free), send an email with your complete mailing address.

What Will Be of Us

“What Will Be of Us” is a continuation of the series, “I Keep Myself Together“, in which Kadour pairs photographs with texts to evoke a response in the viewer. “I am interested in the isolation of contemporary life and the sometimes intense personal drama that plays out without anyone really knowing. When I watch people, I often make up stories in my head about them. The titles of the photographs are snippets of those stories; moments of dialogue in a full work of theatre. By presenting the images in a circle, I hope to convey to the viewer the sense that they are peeking into a world or looking through a spyglass,” wrote Kadour in 2013. In working this way, Kadour taps into the tradition of text-based works expressed by Lawrence Weiner and Martin Firrell and the text/image collage work of Barbara Kruger.



“What Will Be of Us” is intended to be exhibited as a grid that alternates texts and images.

Individual prints are 12″x12″ in 12.5″x12.5″ frames. Edition of 3. INQUIRE TO PURCHASE

Zine: What Will Be of Us

This zine, What Will Be of Us, shows the text with matching images in book form. Details: 36 pages | 7”x5” | saddle-stitched booklet | 2016 | ISBN: 978-1-927587-20-1 | AVAILABLE HERE




My Junk Taste Like Flowers

In early 2012, I had been thinking about objects and particularly why objects matter and why we collect the stuff we do. Around that time, I interviewed Katharine Mulherin at her gallery on Queen West in Toronto. I learned we share an interest in collecting seemingly random objects, things that are not quite art, not really design, but objects from the past whose shape, form, or colour appeals to our senses or the moment. I think of these objects as artifacts of someone else’s personal history that I appropriate into the grand narrative of an unwritten memoir. My partners call these objects junk.

I asked Katharine why she collects the things she does. “Oh, I don’t know,” she responded initially and then paused and said, “Joy. I collect things because they bring me joy.”

The series “My Junk Taste Like Flowers” is both a documentation of objects and an expression of joy about them. This series is photographs of sculptures made with my junk which are then venerated with flowers. Arranging my junk was like restacking and reordering memories. The whole was other than the sum of its parts.


“My Junk Taste Like Flowers” is manifested as an installation, a series of colour instant photographs, and an artist book.

Altar to My Junk

Altar to My Junk is a variable installation of found and plaster objects with silk flowers on a raised surface. About Altar Making

Altar to My Junk


I documented each of these sculptures using a Polaroid 360 Land Camera and Fujifilm FP-100c to make a colour instant photograph in editions of three, except for the titular piece, My Junk Taste Like Flowers, which is an edition of 100 and released as an artist book.



Object & Joy

A booklet containing the essay “Object & Joy: My Junk Taste Like Flowers” and images of photographs from the series.


My Junk Taste Like Flowers 
by Ric Kasini Kadour
4.25” x 3.25”
colour instant photograph

edition of 100



Galerie Maison Kasini, February & March 2013



Artist Statement

“Boring” represented an important stage in my evolution from painter to photographer to artist who works to put images on paper. For those interested in artistic development and technique, I offer the following four observations:

I continue to be influenced by photographers Michael Meads and Nan Goldin. Where my earlier work, such as “M Series” (2003), combined social documentary and creative portraiture to explore an individual persona, “Boring” is broader and attempts to explore interpersonal dynamics and scene.

“Boring” also represents a development of technique. The photographs in “Speed of Light” (2005) employ the visual strategies of abstract painting to manifest images of light and color where the kinetic interplay offers the viewer a sense of emotionality. “Boring” represents an application of those strategies to work with a definitive subject and narrative.

“Boring” is the most personal work I have produced to date. While it is not the first time I have turned the camera on my private life–I often take photographs of friends, lovers, and partners in various states of partying and play–it is the first time I have considered such work strong enough to have meaning to those not immediately attached to it. As such, a personal statement is included.

By nature, I am not a collaborator. While I value critical feedback of others, I prefer working alone, controlling a project, and ultimately being responsible for its successes and failures. But without intending to do so on their part, this work is significantly informed by the art and aesthetic of Danny Buchanan, whose nonlinear narrative collage paintings appear in some of the photographs, and Pet Shop Boys, whose lyrics provided me a vernacular with which to tell a story.

Personal Statement


I hadn’t met Danny in person before, but we talked a lot over a few months and found we had art and a mutual attraction in common.

You have to meet Danny to understand him. He is full of contradictions: part art mafiosi, part redneck; a butch fashionista; and, perhaps, the most sensitive guy’s guy I’ve ever met. He has an incredible sense of aesthetic, a yearn for beautiful things, an unbending view of the world, a rich passion and spirit.

Danny had a few days off. I was looking for something. He invited me to Toronto for a few days to hang out. On my second night, we went to the Drake Hotel for a concert and art/film party. Afterwards, we made our way to Boystown and met up with Adam and Brent. The bars close early in Toronto. The four of us ended up at Danny’s where we were joined by two women who talked a lot but didn’t stay long.

I snapped pictures while we drank beer and smoked and listened to Adam’s stories of cum-stained blue cardigans and getting gay bashed with a napkin. Danny hovered around getting up every few minutes to DJ.

With the women gone, the boys got into me taking pictures. Danny pulled out a bunch of clothes. Adam took off his pants and put on this flannel grey coat. Brent found a muscle shirt he liked and put that on, then he and Danny argued who looked better in it. The rest is in the pictures.

On the drive back to Montreal, I felt like I had spent a few days in a Pet Shop Boys song: cabbing around the city making the scenes, having short sharp cell phone calls to coordinate the effort, seeing and being seen, friends arguing with friends, small talk, getting sized up, making contact, and a complicated set of love-lust emotions for Danny. It seemed right to title the photographs with quotes from their lyrics.



The thirty-four page folio contains twenty-five images plus personal and artist statements and title pages. Each image is 4″x4″ on 5″x7″ paper. The folio is presented loose in a navy-coloured box. The edition is limited to one hundred and each folio is numbered, signed, and contains a certificate. The folio was published in 2005.


November 2005, Second Floor (Toronto)
January 2006, Kasini House Gallery-at-Large (Montreal)

I Keep Myself Together

“I Keep Myself Together” is a series of 10 photographs that contrast urban isolation and natural beauty.

New York is advanced urban life. One of the great things about New Yorkers is that they move through the city unaware or unconcerned that other people will see them. This obliviousness or indifference marries with an air of intention. New Yorkers on the street are always going somewhere. What passes for rudeness is often an exigency to keep moving and to keep other people moving, particularly if that other person was in their way. I like to watch people and one day while waiting for someone on a street corner, I began to notice how consumed people were with themselves. Many were on their phones. Many more were in a bubble of music, driven into their heads by earbuds. I wanted to capture the people I was watching.

I have been shooting natural scenes for years. One of the things I try to do is find a focal point and to allow for as much blur as possible in the image while keeping the subject in focus. I applied this approach to photographing people. Like trees and flowers, New Yorkers are unaware of a man with a camera. I stood on street corners for hours, invisible while I took pictures.

I am interested in the isolation of contemporary life and the sometimes intense personal drama that plays out without anyone really knowing. When I watch people, I often make up stories in my head about them. The titles of the photographs are snippets of those stories; moments of dialogue in a full work of theatre. By presenting the images in a circle, I hope to convey to the viewer the sense that they are peeking into a world or looking through a spyglass.


I Keep Myself Together Catalog

Day & Night

Day & Night

These photographs reflect my interest in abstraction and particularly, the abstracted landscape. In these “Day” photographs, wanted to push the edge of whiteness and blur. I also wanted to capture fields of color. In the “Night” photographs, I wanted to go back to darkness and apply what I learned by taking pictures during the day.

My previous series, “Speed of Light” (2005), “Boring” (2006), and “More Speed of Light” (2008), were all largely shot at night. In May 2007, during a car trip to a wedding in Virginia, I found myself, as I usually do on long car rides, taking photographs as we sped down the road. Wanting to recreate the same blurry, abstract effect during the day time, I began exploring over exposure and unfocusing. Over the past few months, I refined this approach and the seven “Day” photographs show a range of work.


There’s a way where there’s a will
You know I got no need for stairs
Step out on the window sill
Fall with me into the air

Daytime bores me. People are working. Because I am a night person, I tend to sleep away most of the morning. I wake up a lunch time. I work a little. I eat lunch. I wait for one of my lovers to come home or get out of class. Day is a time for waiting.

I tend to take photographs during the day when I find myself awake and out and bored: at a BBQ with friends, in the car on a road trip, and even, ironically, at a daytime rave that takes place on Sundays during the summer in Montreal. I take pictures to fill the time, to busy myself till night comes and I feel awake and alive again.

I don’t understand people who wake up early in the morning to take the day. There is no romance in the morning, no sense of urgency, no risk. There is no light when everything is light.


So, here we go, hold on tight and don’t let go
I won’t ever let you fall
I love the night, flying o’er these city lights
But I love you most of all 

I love the night. I love how darkness soothes the city to quiet. People disappear and I am alone, uninhibited, and free to roam.

I also like to shoot at night. It is easier to add light than to take it away. Light itself becomes a subject, the actor in the photographs. Colors become moody. Things look better at night. Darkness has a way of obscuring the dark and dingy. I would rather walk down an alley and see stacks of smashed cardboard and piles of black garbage bags than seen perfectly manicured sidewalks bursting with potted flowers.

The night promises sex and mystery and danger. We give ourselves permission to do things in the dark we would not during daylight hours. At night, we hold our lovers a little tighter. At night, we dream.


Lyrics are from “A Song For Milly Michaelson” by Thrice.

Instant Colour Photographs

I use a Polaroid 360 Land Camera and Fujifilm FP-100c to make a instant colour photographs.


Sometimes these are one-offs made for INSTANT ARTSHOP. Other times they are studies for projects, particularly when I am experimenting with blur.

Others are made for a specific project, such as My Junk Taste Like Flowers, and the focus is on creating multiples. To make multiple copies of an instant colour photograph, one has to hold the camera in place and pull the photograph at exactly the same time. This works great in the studio…most of the time, but can be challenging outdoors where the most I’ve gotten is three before giving up.

When we shot 100 copies of My Junk Taste Like Flowers, two of us worked to shoot, time, and pull the photographs. But with the lights in the room and two bodies, the temperature changed which affected the pull time as we progressed through the shoot. The entire exercise was an interesting challenge, but not one I feel like I need to repeat.

My favorite subject to shoot with this method is the sky because the blues are rich and variable.

Instant Colour Photographs are available in ARTSHOP.