My work comes from a belief that art can be a powerful agent for intellectual inquiry and social change. Conceptually, I draw from the personal, with the intention of making the issues public. Some of my projects are large-scale and very difficult to clearly represent in visual documentation. In these projects I engage with communities, using the process and the final work produced as a forum for audiences to hear the voices from these communities. I am also interested in using my work as a vehicle that helps to provide for a democratic forum to take place. While some of my work is public art made in response or in collaboration with historically under-represented communities, the work I made during my residency was more object-oriented, like much of my studio work, and meant to be seen in more intimate, even domestic spaces.
Baby, Baby! was my current and ongoing installation of objects made from the detritus in the daily life of a parent of twin daughters. In this body of work, the cultural memories of our childhood become the everyday tools we hold in our hands to get us through the day, (or sleep-deprived nights). These pieces address the maintenance work involved in being a parent with the environmental ethic of “reduce, reuse, recycle and rot.” They examine the hourly repetition, of seemingly mundane activities, building bridges of dialogue to audiences, by using humor to expose the commonality of our private lives.
I intended to explore the public ramifications of the private work done for Baby! Baby! as I scavenged through the refuse of San Francisco residents, as it passed through the dump during the spring and summer of 2004. I soon realized that I had written a proposal based on my preconceived notions of what I would find, or what I would find interesting enough to collect. Just as in any well-conceived project proposal, I soon realized that I needed to be present as a visitor and resident artist at the dump. I could simply respond to being there with the workers and the mountains of stuff that is dumped there each day. Soon the studio was being filled with shopping carts full of discarded domestic objects such as old recordings, old letters, photographs, prints, paintings, lace, mirrors, toys and sewing supplies.
The residency was liberating for my artistic process. I worked intuitively and quickly with the use of only a few of the tools from the very well-equipped studio. The sewing machine and the hand drill along with shopping carts filled with possibilities were all I needed to inspire the process and production of sixty-five new works addressing memory and memorial, the body and consumption, politics and the 2004 US presidential election, environmental issues, and racial/religious intolerance. My residency at the dump felt like being a kid at summer camp. I am very grateful for the renewed focus it gave me on my own artistic process.
Photos and press release for this artist.