Candacy Taylor

Candacy Taylor is an award-winning author and cultural documentarian residing in Los Angeles, California. In 2002, she received a Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies from the California College of the Arts. Her thesis project, Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress was published by Cornell University Press. The book was  optioned by ABC/Sony and a television pilot was produced. Southwest Airlines’ in-flight magazine, Spirit listed the Counter Culture exhibition on their top ten-list of things to see in America.

Through rigorous research and field-based inquiry, Taylor’s projects combine writing, photography, and video to address issues of race, class, and gender. Her works challenge collective assumptions about ethnicity, identity, travel and the history and agency of place. Taylor’s cross-disciplinary projects are grounded in sound scholarship and use innovative theoretical approaches to generate new discoveries and dialogues about American culture.

Since graduation, Taylor has traveled over 90,000 miles throughout the United States documenting American culture. Her work has been featured in 48 periodicals, museums, galleries, radio programs and television shows. Taylor’s projects have been commissioned and funded by leading organizations such as The National Park Service, The Graham Foundation, Cal Humanities, and The American Folklife Center. In 2012, she was one of five people to receive an Archie Green Fellowship from the  Library of Congress.

Candacy Taylor

Counter Intelligence

The waitress's ear-piercing twang, mixed with the reverberating ring of the kitchen's bell, creates the atmosphere that diners have marketed for decades. Grease carries the burnt smell of the range, while the aroma of frying bacon permeates the senses. You know breakfast is cooking when you hear the hollow crash of the frying pan hit the grill. The smells of bacon grease and watered-down coffee, mixed with blueberry pancakes, curdled fat, and fried starch, drift in the air. It's not just the odors but the cacophony of clanging silverware against thick glass cream-colored plates laid over the chatter of patrons—all mixes in like a syncopated jazz riff. This environment with legs, mouths, arms, eyes, hands, and the silent breeze of Esther rushing by stirs up to a breakneck pace in a centrifugal spin. All managed and controlled by the well-seasoned waitress who raced to our tables, quarreled with the grill guy, and brought humor and culture to the American roadside dining experience.

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