Dana Hemenway: Conversation Pit - Recology

Dana Hemenway
Conversation Pit

“While I was at Recology I’ve also been pregnant… I think you think about a different scale of time when you’re thinking about future generations and witnessing all the trash…it was interesting to be in here and abstractly process some of those thoughts.”

– Dana Hemenway

Written by Weston Teruya

Dana Hemenway excavates utilitarian materials hidden within the infrastructure of the built environment, transforming them through fiber arts techniques to create sculptures that dissolve the boundaries between domestic crafts, interior design, and building labor. For Conversation Pit, Hemenway intertwines and layers an array of objects gathered during her time in-residence, reshaping them into a series of detailed sculptures that invite close inspection.

While at Recology, Hemenway laboriously processed the collected materials, transmuting unremarkable substances that are often discarded in construction–like rosin-paper drop cloth and sawdust–to coat the surfaces of wireframes or metal table bases. She intuitively wove these together with an assortment of other media, including quilted placemats, cloth-covered wiring, chiffon ribbon, vinyl-coated cable, MDF, and enamel pins–some seemingly discarded when brand new and others bearing traces of their past use. As a result, the richly textured pieces reveal new facets as you consider each piece of the whole, whether the sooty weathering on one side of recovered electrical wiring or the hints of the original textile print on a cut cloth surface. In Hemenway’s reshaping of materials, she grants the same respect to the overlooked and ephemeral as to furnishings, prompting us to reflect on the value we place on the things that surround us and the work and resources it takes to produce them.

Dana Hemenway is an artist, curator, and educator based in San Francisco. She received her MFA from Mills College and her BA from the University of California Santa Cruz. Hemenway has had residencies at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, NE, ACRE in Stueben, WI, SÍM in Reykjavik, Iceland, and The Wassaic Project in upstate New York. Hemenway has been awarded a San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Grant and Southern Exposure Alternative Exposure Grant. In 2020, she completed a public art commission for SFO’s Terminal 1. Hemenway has exhibited her artwork locally, nationally, and internationally. From 2015 to 2017, she served as a co-director of Royal Nonesuch Gallery, an artist-run project space in Oakland, CA.


Dana Hemenway
Photo by Graham Holoch, KQED.