Photo by Devon Cox.

Denim is an expansive collaborative project led by director Lisa Channer about the history of blue jeans in the United States. This topic contains stories about race, money, labor history, colonialism, immigration, gender, the ideal of freedom, advertising, sex, and essentially every single thing that matters about American History. It’s a big project.

In June 2018, Lisa and I went to San Francisco to visit the Levi’s archive and conduct research on Gold Rush California, the birthplace of blue jeans. We became fascinated by the campy way that Western US history is presented, visiting re-enactment towns and corporate funded museums. Here we are at the Wells Fargo Stagecoach Photo Booth.

Photo by a corporate robot.

Back in Minneapolis, we began working with our dramaturgy team and student actors at the University of Minnesota to develop a workshop production based on our research.

Photo by Devon Cox

We had so much fun with our students, and found the material was so rich, we decided we wanted to keep exploring. In the fall of 2018, I took a scene from the play about a mining camp (above) and collaborated with cinematographer Leif Huron to turn it into a short film with some of my favorite professional actors in Minneapolis (below).


Lisa and I are currently working on a series of short films based on our research from Denim. We’re are loving exploring a new medium, and continuing to explore the ideas that we’ve gathered over years of researching the history of denim. Stay tuned for the next chapter!

Photo by Devon Cox