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Artists retrace 'Grapes of Wrath' journey for novel's 75th birthday

A south-bound train passes farm workers shortly after sunrise on October 10, 2007 in the Coachella Valley near Mecca, California.
A south-bound train passes farm workers shortly after sunrise on October 10, 2007 in the Coachella Valley near Mecca, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

John Steinbeck's renowned novel "Grapes of Wrath," which documented the lives of farmworkers who took the dustbowl journey from Oklahoma to California, turns 75 this year. In remembrance, a trio of artists have been recreating that trip for the past couple of weeks — recording interviews with people along the way.

The 11-day trip across the country ends Monday at a labor camp in Central California called Weedpatch Camp. The interviews are a collection of stories about what's like to face adversities and find joy during hard times.

Artist and historian Patricia Wakida of Boyle Heights says she spoke with an 83-year-old woman in Flagstaff, Arizona who said she's inspired by watching the sunrise each morning. She admires the varying hues — until it grows too hot. 

"After a certain point, the sun became so bright, it was in her face and it really burned at you and she said it became, in a word, unbearable. And then she said to me, when a circumstance becomes unbearable, you have to change your position," said Wakida of the interview. 

Playwright Octavio Solis and Filmmaker P-J Palmer are also on the journey from Oklahoma to Central California. The new stories will become part of the 2014 Steinbeck Festival in Salinas.