William Mark Sommer ’17

Sacramento, California

Open Wabi is a great place for creation, building upon ideas and conversation. It brought me a new understanding of the United States and what makes this country my home. Jason and Tricia are also two of the nicest people you will ever meet.


William Mark Sommer (b. 1990) is an artist based in Phoenix, Arizona. Creating in photography for over 10 years has brought him all over the Western United States. Taking the road less traveled and searching for forgotten places of yesteryear has brought him to a better understanding of American nostalgia and the idealized glory of the past. Implying the use of film photography brings him closer to the nostalgic sensibility of his subjects. He has exhibited over the United States and Internationally.

My plan was clear, concise, and reasonable, I think. For many years I have traveled in many parts of the world. In America I live in New York, or dip into Chicago or San Francisco. But New York is no more America than Paris is France or London is England. Thus I discovered that I did not know my own country. I, an American writer, writing about America, was working from memory, and the memory is at best a faulty, warpy reservoir. I had not heard the speech of America, smelled the grass and trees and sewage, seen its hills and water, its color and quality of light. I knew the changes only from books and newspapers. But more than this, I had not felt the country for twenty-five years. In short, I was writing of something I did not know about, and it seems to me that in a so-called writer this is criminal. My memories were distorted by twenty-five intervening years.

— John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley: In Search of America

Where to find

Work from the Open Wabi experience

Blue Swallow Motel

This photo of The Blue Swallow Motel is a part of my series documenting Route 66 from the start in Chicago, Illinois to end in Santa Monica, California. This photo is shot on a Hasselblad 500c/m with Kodak Ektar 100iso.

Tunnel View, Yosemite

Tunnel View, Yosemite, is a part of my most recent series of in camera film panoramas showcasing the American National Parks. This photo is shot on a Hasselblad 500c/m with Kodak Tmax 400iso.