Drought

Drought

mixed-media with found objects
8”x31.5”x3.5”
2015

On my first hike out into the desert mining area of Silver City, I was shocked to see so much dried up hosing lying around. I noticed how the sun faded the color and how the color intensified where it was buried. As the plastic dried and crumbled away, it exposed the underlying web of reinforcement. These qualities reminded me of the Japanese aesthetic referred to as “wabi-sabi”. This aesthetic recognizes the beauty in objects that are faded, rusted and worn. As a result, I collected several pieces of hose and brought them back to the studio. Along the way, I also picked up a few pieces of sun-dried plywood. From these two materials, I constructed “Drought”, the first piece in this series. Additionally, as a Mid-Westerner, coming from the Great Lakes State, I was confronted with the reality of a dry, desert landscape and the resulting challenges of drought occurring within the region.

High Desert Cafe

High Desert Cafe

mixed-media with found objects
18.5”x10.25”x4”
2015

While living in Silver City, I awoke each day to watch the sun rise over the mountains as I drank my morning cup of coffee. This was a time to contemplate the day, express gratitude and feel the awe of nature as it presented itself once again. This experience inspired “High Desert Cafe”. In addition to this experience, I found many fragments of coffee cups, mostly small pieces or handle parts. One fragment happened to be larger and broken almost perfectly in half, allowing it to stand out from the other fragments. Although combined with a rusted wire enso form, I felt the piece needed another element. So, I decided to brew a cup of coffee on the wood background, forming a natural patina. I developed a brewing technique that included cutting a yogurt container in half and using the top portion for holding the coffee on the wood. Then, using an eye dropper, I added drops of boiling water to control the size of the coffee stain.

Black Rain

Black Rain

mixed-media with found objects
28”x12.5”x3”
2015

“Black Rain” is a response to the physical landscape changes that I experienced firsthand while living in SIlver City. It recognizes the effect of mining that occurred over 100 years ago as well as the mining currently being done in the area. This piece is also one of a few from this series where I have chosen to begin working with abstract forms. Although abstracted, the large plastic forms hang onto representational associations of mountains, horizon, water and rain. Ultimately, a balance between abstraction and representation is reached with this piece.

Button

Button

mixed-media with found objects
15”x10.5”x2”
2015

Pearl buttons, such as the one in this piece, were commonly used during the 1860’s. Buttons from this period were usually sewn in an X formation, but I chose to sew this one into a closed, square formation to mimic the black square it is presented on. This piece is also an example of how the work in this series uses a pseudo-scientific manner of presenting a specimen. In this case, a tiny object, such as a white button, is centrally presented on a black field, encouraging study and close observation of its details.

Sunrise: The Artist in Silver City

Sunrise: The Artist in Silver City

mixed-media with found objects
32.5”x10”x4”
2015

“Sunrise: The Artist in Silver City” is the culminating, final piece in the “Comstock Wabi-Sabi” series created while a Resident Artist in Silver City. It visually collects many of my experiences while living and working in the Comstock region. I was immensely grateful to wake up each morning and watch the sun rise over the mountains as I planned my day. The yellow wood, plate and lid suggests the warmth and sunlight of the summer months as well as the incredible warmth of the community of Silver City. Each of the components of this piece naturally fit together—such as the the honeycombed wood’s width matching the width of the yellow board, the broken tool handle’s length aligned along the side of the yellow board and the plastic cowboy head resting precisely between the broken tines of the comb. Underneath the horizon line and suggested wooden mining structure, lies the lode of silver that gave the town its name.

Tangent Point

Tangent Point

mixed-media with found objects
12”x14”x5”
2015

With a large resource of hosing left to deteriorate in the desert, I decided to make a complimentary hose piece to “Drought”. This time, I wanted to acknowledge the curvature of the hosing that was hardened and preserved as it dried out in the desert. The use of a small, supporting background allowed the hosing to float out into open space indicative of the West. The tangent point becomes a central focus and energy transmitter through the conical shape and inclusion of a quartz crystal at the end. Additionally, the hole in the wood behind the crystal exposes a wine glass bottom whose stem further directs the energy outward through the crystal.

Tin Can Enso

Tin Can Enso

mixed-media with found objects
26.5”x4.5”x6.5”
2015

Amassing a large collection of objects with diverse material properties such as glass, ceramic, rock, wood, metal and plastic, I was challenged to invent appropriate engineering techniques to attach the objects into a unified, single object. This piece was of particular challenge and is an example of two technical approaches. In some cases, the attachment points worked best being invisible, such as the attachment of the wooden tool handles on the sides of the main board that use internal wooden pegs. Also, the floating attachment of the plate fragment and tin can is quite complex in its hidden supports and shimming. Or, an attachment technique that is obviously visible, thereby adding aesthetic interest to the composition. This can be seen in the rock attachment that openly utilizes wire to secure it to its base at the top of the piece. The patina on the main board emphasizes the circular holes in the wood suggesting another example of the enso form. The enso form was then extended onto the tin can by adding a black rim.

Rust Form #2

Rust Form #2

mixed-media with found objects
21”x16.5”x2”
2015

Working at a larger scale than “Rust Form #1”, “Rust Form #2” continues my exploration of abstraction using a configuration of multiple pieces of rusty metal. Each metal piece was uniquely rusted based on how it was exposed to the desert environment. In this case, the pieces were found stacked and partially buried in the earth, thereby leaving light-colored earth stains against the red-orange rust. Upon joining the two metal pieces, two abstract forms are created—a hard-edged, external perimeter form and a flowing, organic internal form. Continuing to allow things to be as they are, the composition was accentuated by the addition of found metal rings where ever there was a hole in the background plywood.

Dice & Mineshafts

Dice & Mineshafts

mixed-media with found objects
7”x17”x4”
2015

“Dice & Mineshafts” continues the exploration of forms in the landscape due to mining activity. Here, both earth-covered angular wood pieces have been carved out to create the suggestion of a mineshaft or cave, while mimicking the square shape of the dice. Of course, the dice also suggests the historical prominence of gambling within the area. This early piece was also pivotal in a move to begin working more organically and asymmetrically. Although subtle, the positioning of the dice is not centered on the wood background.

 

Cup Handle & Cut Nails

Cup Handle & Cut Nails

mixed-media with found objects
6”x17.75”x2.25”
2015

Arriving in Silver City from the Mid-West, I was quite surprised to see the vast amount of evidence from mining activity over the years. Pits, tailings and mine shafts were everywhere in the landscape behind the studio. I also observed the diverse colors of the earth including ochre, ivory and gray. Recognizing the shape and angles of the earth in and around the pits, I arrived upon a formal presentation strategy for the objects I was finding there. “Cup Handle & Cut Nails” is the first example that used this strategy. It uses earth from the collection area attached to wood that is cut with an angle representative of the depression in the landscape. The object is then presented as if it were in the pit.

Fracture

Fracture

mixed-media with found objects
26”x15.5”x3”
2015

While working with a piece of wood, it split in half and a knot fell out. The resulting form reminded me of the fracturing of the earth due to mining activity and the holes left from mine shafts. Using the earth-covered wooden form as a foundation, the remainder of the piece was constructed around both horizontal and vertical landscape axes. External elements such as a setting sun sun and internal layering of rock strata are suggested. Human interaction within the landscape is evidenced by elements such as snap buttons, nails and shingles.

Home Enso (for Thich Nhat Hanh)

Home Enso (for Thich Nhat Hanh)

mixed-media with found objects
17.5”x16.5”x2”
2015

Inspired by the reading of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Love Letter to the Earth, I found further relationships to support the use of the enso form. Hanh is also a practitioner of the enso form, often writing a pithy phrase in the center of it. A message in the book conveys that the Earth is literally a part of us, its entirety is our home, in other words, everything is interconnected. Therefore, if we treat the Earth as our own home, we can be better stewards of it. This piece uses a circular format to accentuate the enso form as well as the Earth form. It is built up to create a 3-D topography using powdered wood filler, dirt, rocks and crystals.

Monochrome Collection

Monochrome Collection

mixed-media with found objects
37”x3”x5”
2015
SOLD

After numerous exploratory hikes into the desert mining region, I accumulated a large amount of objects. In order to have them readily accessible, I laid them all out on a long concrete driveway. At this point, I realized that I was working in a manner similar to an archeologist or paleontologist—discovering, cataloging, studying and reconstructing the objects. So, I organized the objects into material categories: glass, rock, ceramic, metal, wood, etc. By organizing in this way, I recognized that color categories also existed, resulting in the ivory-hued “Monochrome Collection”.

 

Insect Trails

Insect Trails

mixed-media with found objects
10.5”x17.5”x3”
2015

In an attempt to loosen up previous working strategies steeped in symmetry and perfectionism, I chose to embrace a more organic, asymmetrical approach that recognized the wabi-sabi aesthetic. This aligned well with the deteriorating objects and materials I discovered in the high desert. “Insect Trails” is the culminating example of embracing this new approach. In fact, the piece has no square corners and no level surface. Working with the objects and materials as they are was a freeing experience, although not without the temptation to straighten an edge or level a surface.

Earth Walk Enso

Earth Walk Enso

mixed-media with found objects
9.5”x25”x3.5”
2015

This later work pushes the boundaries of asymmetry and working with materials as they are. It went through many incarnations and developed naturally over quite some time in the studio. The foundation of the work is the lathed post and earth-covered wooden balls. Each of the remaining elements naturally fit within the design of the lathed post which defines the final composition. The piece is influenced by a book I read while a Resident Artist in Silver City. Love Letter to the Earth by Thich Nhat Hanh, a popular Buddhist teacher, discusses ways in which we can deeply connect with the Earth, so that we may become more ecologically mindful of how we interact with it. Walking meditation is a way to develop a direct connection and stronger relationship with the Earth.

Aspirin

Aspirin

mixed-media with found objects
14”x21”x3”
2015

“Aspirin” is an early piece in the overall development of this series of work. During this early period, I developed several strategies for working with found objects in the Comstock region. One of these strategies included working with the objects as they are. In other words, finding formal and conceptual relationships between the objects without changing them or forcing them. As a result, by paying close attention to each found object in my collection, the works essentially fit together like puzzle pieces. In “Aspirin”, two pieces naturally fit together: 1) the metal aspirin box is the same width as the piece of wood it is connected to; and 2) the notch in the stick wraps around the dirt-covered piece of wood, mimicking its right angles.

Bedroom Door Knob (for Julia Bulette)

Bedroom Door Knob (for Julia Bulette)

mixed-media with found objects
19”x5”x5”
2015

During a visit to the Fourth Ward School Museum in Virginia City, I discovered that the number one job in Virginia City during the Comstock Era was prostitution. Upon further research, I discovered that there was a single person with significant notoriety who represented this profession. Her name was Julia C. Bulette. She was a prostitute and madam of the most prosperous brothel in Virginia City. Popular with the miners and local firefighters, she was brutally murdered in 1867 by a French drifter and jewel thief. With the above information, this piece came together when I found a rusty door knob and bedspring in my collection of objects. Other elements such as a board from a barrel, a large square spike, and red rubber pieces contribute to the formal and conceptual makeup of the piece.

Dinnerware

Dinnerware

mixed-media with found objects
6.5”x26.75”x3”
2015

Broken pieces of plates, cups and bowls are a very common object to find in and around the mining areas. Often, upon finding colorful, ornate, yet deteriorating pieces of dinnerware, I would pause and think to myself, “Who ate off of this plate and what was their life like?” This historical perspective gave significant impact to every fragment I found. Each fragment containing its own stories, some evident, some secret. “Dinnerware” collects a diverse series of plate fragments along with rusted silverware amid a field of gray earth, acting as a neutral background. It also continues the exploration of asymmetrical composition and formal strategies suggesting mining pits.

Suffering

Suffering

mixed-media with found objects
11.5”x11.5”x 4”
2015

Around Silver City, Gold Hill and on the way to Lake Tahoe, I noticed dramatic deposits of ivory-colored earth, some natural and some the result of mining activity. After collecting some of the earth and choosing to work in a circular format, I found four pointed plate fragments and a rusted aspirin container in my collection. Arranging the plate fragments around the four sides of the aspirin container, the piece mimicked the four directions, suggesting suffering in all directions. The quartz crystal wired to the aspirin container suggests that although we all suffer regularly, this suffering provides opportunities for clarity and wisdom. The quartz crystal is not only a common, universal crystal, it is considered the Master Healer stone.

Rust Form #1

Rust Form #1

mixed-media with found objects
18”x2.5”x2.5”
2015

During a hike with a neighbor, I found numerous pieces of thin, rusted metal that were identically shaped rectangles with one corner cut off. Interested in working with multiples, I decided to use these forms to make a purely abstract work, something I had not done before. The piece came together when I found a gently curved piece of wood, possibly from a mining structure. The width of the wood matched the width of the metal forms, so the parts fit together naturally.