2’x12’ installed, 2016, wood and expanded steel armature, dirt-crete, artificial grass, wire, paper pulp and paint.
“ On the wrong side of history” is a phrase repeated relatively often in discussing the potential choices humankind will have to make now and in the near future regarding the kind of world we will be leaving for future generations. As humans we pick sides and inthis backward “History” we are confronted with an unreadable, vulnerable, inside out piece of earth, with the growth pushed up against the wall, and the roots dangling and exposed.
12’ x 15’, 2015, Soil and clay on wire armature, wood framing.
“All Mine” is read as a very familiar symbol paired with earthen material that suggests a barren, drought stricken landscape. The title brings multiple meanings to mind including possession and possessiveness, and the act of extraction and taking the resources from the land. I think about continent, country, regions, ownership, real estate and the idea of using and “using up” and the impact to future life on the planet. As Americans push back and protest destructive practices, the conversation has a political and social, as well as moral dimension to it. What is our legacy considering human lives are finite, and what are our responsibilities to life after us?
“All Mine” is made with forethought, the wire and wood armature is re-usable and the soil/clay medium is shaken loose from the armature, ready to be reconstituted for the next audience.
10’ x 14’. Soils and mixed media over paper fiber, on steel wire.
LAST is a 2-part installation piece, a positive and negative “read” and a play on the duo meaning of the word. It speaks to finality- last one of species, last chance to preserve what is left, and an entreaty that the environment will remain and survive. It is the most directly political and urgent work focused on climate change that I have presented to date.
Dirt is the primary material, and I have applied it to a fragile armature in the wall piece, and the text is negative, or removed from the relief. There is no external structure, it floats off the wall. I think of it as a delicate and vulnerable ground.
On a shelf adjacent to the wall work, I have placed the positive letters, cut from the larger piece, still a fragile surface but reinforced with welded steel, and fully 3-Dimensional, with an earthy green visible through the dirt/mesh.
15‘ high x 8‘wide x6’ deep (in installation) soil and mixed media on paper fiber and steel wire, earth pigments and ultramarine pigment, adhesive.
If something is unseen, it is difficult to be concerned about it’s destruction. In this piece I created root-like structures to imagine the underground where mining processes and “Fracking” are damaging the environment in ways out of sight, and for many, out of mind. The colored pigments used here are mined “earth”, and are extraordinary in their intensity, like jewels. The ultramarine band serves to represent water, the most important element for life and at the greatest risk of destruction. As an artist I hope to create empathy and appreciation for the elements that sustain us, some beyond our vision.
Joshua Tree Restoration Project
Joshua tree bark, cotton mesh, nylon floss, silicone, rag paper
Joshua Tree Restoration is one of a series of works that I have been producing over the past 8 years that represent the acts of retrieval and reparation or repair, often focused on human encroachment and disruption of the natural world. The pieces were collected in 2010, while I was on residency in Joshua Tree, California, from a single standing dead tree. I removed the bark in pieces, labeled the position of each, reinforced them with silicone and cotton rag paper, and shipped them to my studio in Central NY. I completed the piece in 2012, by backing each piece with cotton mesh, and stitching the whole tree back together . What was once alive is now an imperfect, patched skeleton, a ghost of the living tree. Joshua Trees exist in a very small and fragile environment and grow only an inch per year. They are not expected to survive climate change. Installed, the sculpture stands over 16’ and has a diameter of 24”.
10’ x32‘ x 2’ , asphalt, soil, jute cloth, steel armature, mixed media
This work is a mosaic of asphalt pieces collected from around the urban environment that surrounds my studio and neighborhood on the Near West Side of Syracuse. These pieces are attached to an armature and “grouted” with dirt. The piece is a composite of sections that fit together seamlessly to form a large undulating field, and grass seed was planted in the soil. I have added white and yellow stripping paint to some of the fragments to create a humorous approximation of parking lot stripes, so that the surface functions as a painting as well as a very familiar and contemporary urban environment. Nature encroaching on the paved environment is the inspiration for this piece. This installation is 10’ at the widest point and 32’ long, and is 24” at the deepest point. The piece was created in 2012.
approximately 20’x 40’, soil, movement
Arena is one of 3 projects undertaken while on a six-week artist residency in Joshua Tree, CA, in 2010. The 22’ diameter expanse became a temporary drawing and marking space. The surface was created by importing soft sand from under the hard baked surface and leveling the field with the back of a shovel. Every few days the surface would be prepared to accept another “recording”.
The images here document a few of those events, including animal tracks, twig drawings, shoe prints, and wheelbarrow tracks. I used a bowl of water to attract animals to the site over a period of days and was able to identify bird footprints, coyotes, lizards, snakes, etc. I used the wheelbarrow that was integral to the creation of the Arena to leave the pattern of tire tracks, working backward to eliminate my footprints. The Arena became a constantly changing performance space.
During a 6-week artist residency in Joshua Tree CA, I began my first project “Rogue Cells”, after noticing the patterns of my shoe prints collecting on the desert floor during daily walks. I saw the varied patterns of other footprints, and the staying power of these tracks due to the texture of the sand and the consistently dry weather. I became aware of re-tracing my tracks over days, and the lace-like forms that developed from this repeated activity.
As a stranger introduced to the environment of the Mohave Desert, these patterns became a symbol of my presence and experience of being in this fragile environment. They carried for me both my appreciation of the opportunity to be a temporary part of this world, and my understanding of the potential harm the human presence represents.
The” Cells” grew out of this ambivalence about my presence; the circular forms with the various shoe prints layered over the surfaces are spreading out along the desert floor, encircling plant life.
The effect is something like a spreading rash or tumors, but there is also a beauty in the patterns and the repetition of circles.
18” x 96” x 13/4”, plywood, tree bark
Raw natural materials inserted or otherwise re-processed into human made materials is a theme that frequently appears in my object-based work. This represents an integrative gesture that speaks of a need to find balance between human need and comfort, and the natural environment. The visual effect of the bark emerging from the plywood panels suggests the tree re-emerging and reforming itself.
bark, soil, acrylic medium, jute, silicone, each element 14” wide x 30’ long
In treks through the woods, I frequently encounter evidence of vehicles cutting across trails. These are reminders of human presence and technology in the most serene natural environments. Thisplayful work reverses that invasive presence, bringing nature into the cultural space of the museum disguised as tire tracks. Each panel is about 2’ by 14” and connects by way of hidden eye hooks. It is photographed installed in the Munson Williams Proctor Museum of Art in Utica, NY.
Off Road 2
unfired cast clay, 10’ diameter
This version of Off - Road is a temporary, site specific installation press-molded in a plaster cast of off road mud terrain tire tread. Once again I am thinking about the track as a kind of aggressive human presence and a very common and recognizable pattern. The track becomes both a controlled and decorative shape, and a trail to nowhere.
Knot Restoration Project
4’ x8’ x 1”, plywood, found plywood knots
Collection and recycling are activities often associated with my work. Here I have gathered knots that I have cut from scrap plywood and carefully inlaid them into a grid of 128 holes in a single sheet of plywood. The “restoration project” is a response to the processing of the wood meant to create a uniform product ideal for construction, including the removal of the knots. The obsessive labor and almost mechanical perfection of the replaced knots speaks to the absurdity and impossibility of repairing or returning the wood to it’s natural state. There is certainly also references to viral reproduction and a body association with this work, among other references
Temporary site specific piece, created in Sherillbrooke Park, New Hartford, NY. I brought a 2-part plastersphere mold into the wooded area of the park and cast these spheres from mud at the site. The contrast between the natural site and the controlled shape of the balls was striking and humorous.
During the first days of an artist residency at the Constance Saltonstall Foundation in Ithaca, NY in 2008, I walked the nature trails, observing the environment. The snows had recently melted leaving the layers of oak, cherry, hickory, and other deciduous leaf fall quite compressed. The forest floor looked like a felted carpet and I decided to devise a project that would reproduce that particular moment and condition in those woods.
The result is this very large “carpet” of leaves treated with acrylic medium to make them flexible enough to be sewn in layers to mimicthe look of the forest floor. Each 2’x 2’ panel was carefully arranged and collaged with leaves that I picked up on daily walks along the trails. the panels were finally sewn together to form the larger carpet.
This then became a prop to be carried to different sites, including the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute Decorative Arts mansion in Utica NY, the manicured lawn on the grounds of the Saltonstall Foundation and in the same woods, later in the season after the leaves had regained some loft. The piece is still being rolled up and carried with me to experience it in new contexts where its photo-realistic quality creates a strange juxtaposition wherever it is sited.
This project was created as a camouflage to integrate the human with the forest at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the Pacific Coast of Oregon, while I was an artist in Residence in the fall/winter of 2006-2007. The activity of collecting the bark was a daily activity that became a meditation and a way of connecting with the beautiful nature preserve at Cascade Head outside of Lincoln City, Oregon. The laborious process of preparing the pieces and fabricating the the “skin” filled my days in the studio and the finished project was both a prop for a forest performance and an object to be exhibited in a gallery context.