Sunday, June 6, 2010

In the fall of 2009, I was asked to create an installation in a public space within the Economics Department at Cornell University. This idea originated when Professor Kaushik Basu, Chair of the Economics Department, asked, "If art can transform a space, could an artist actually transform the way that our professors and students think?" Given no further restrictions, I created "Letters to a New Generation", a week-long installation, residency, performance, and 24/7 live podcast. I asked five hundred people, "If given the chance, what would you say to a future generation?" The following images represent four stages of the project (starting with the results).

Phase IV: Pouches are sewn shut into time capsules to be opened in year 2100 by an artist who has not yet been born.

Phase III: All 500 pouches have been inverted and filled with letters to a new generation.

Phase II: People begin to insert letters to a new generation into the money bags. As they do, they turn the bag inside out to reveal a colorful inner lining made of fabric from countries across the world. Slowly, the room turns from all bland to all color.

Phase I: The walls are lined with 500 bland, uniformly produced money bags. They hang from blank, noose-like price tags.


At this current point in U.S. history, Donald Trump is far more famous to the average American than Greg Mortenson, a man who has spent the last 17 years establishing over 90 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan so that young women have access to education. This seems to indicate that pop culture is prioritizing monetary rewards over humanitartian efforts. In this social climate, I wonder if our ability to appreciate beauty has deteriorated in the wake of our desire for traditional wealth. This installation reflects my interest in how the products we consume affect our experience of living within it. In an extreme case scenario, what would our lives look like if we measured the worth of every act and object exclusively on margins of profit? In another hypothetical scenario, what would our society look like if we designated the value of our products based exclusively on the degree to which they increased the quality of our lives?

This time-based, participatory installation is the inverse of a quick fix, an alternative to reality t.v., and the worst case of mass production possible. The work starts with rows of empty, interchangeable pouches made from ordinary fabric; stand-ins for the corporate-owned songs that play over and over again on the radio, the clothing that sits on the clearance racks at Walmart, and the 2.5 million cups of coffee served through a Dunkin Donuts take-out window in the United States every day. Throughout the course of a week, visitors are invited to write letters to a future generation. Each letter is then inserted into an individually adorned, colorful vessel. Slowly, the space turns from all beige to fully colorful as the room fills with private offerings of wisdom, humor, advice, and reflection. The pouches, each sewn shut, become time capsules--significantly selfless gifts for a generation of people we will never meet. For a brief window of time, I hope to create a space that allows us to collectively imagine and appreciate something bigger and more important than our immediate selves.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I've started a new blog:

It starts where this one left off.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Generational Pull

"Beautiful Burden", tea and watercolor on paper, 30 x 22", 2008

"Fallen Giraffe", tea and watercolor on paper, 30 x 22", 2208
"Rescue", tea and watercolor on paper, 30 x 22", 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

“I Know It Happened and It Happened Like This”, a public installation temporarily on view at the George Eastman House, is founded on the idea that we, as citizens, are equally responsible for the welfare of an entire community, not only for the issues that directly affect us as individuals. The monument intends to promote social awareness by changing cold statistics into a visual experience. It is part of a series of works that started in 2006, the year that Rochester regained its title as "Homicide Capital of New York State".

The public monument consists of thousands of stuffed animals, silk flowers, ribbons, candles, crosses, and frames--the same items that are left at homicide sites by the closest friends and family members of the victims. I wanted to know what it would look like if the entire community came forward to leave items in support of those who lost loved ones. Since the real memorials are almost entirely contained within the most impoverished neighborhoods in the city, I wanted to know what it would look like if the memorial grew so high that you could see it from every home in Rochester.

Within three weeks, over 150 people responded. Scores more offered their help with the construction. Others visited the monument throughout the installation to leave offerings. A candlelit vigil brought religious, academic, government, and community leaders together to take a unified stance against violence. The work stands at the edge of East Avenue, one of the central arteries connecting the suburbs and the city.

Very special thanks to Brian Bailey for being involved in every step of the project from the first thought to the final installation. Special thanks also to Alison Nordstrom, Rick Hock, and the George Eastman House for accepting and supporting the proposal. Special thanks to Barbara Grosh for volunteering to contact individuals and organizations across the greater Rochester area for donations. Special thanks to Allen Topolski and Heather Bischoff for building the model and for guiding the construction. Special thanks to ten others who arrived to assist with the installation: David Fersh, Marilyn and Roy Layton, Donna Jones, Madeleine Cutrona, Joanna Reynolds, Miya Sylvester, Cate Mattson, Jane Morgan, and Gary. Special thanks to all of those who spent countless hours sewing animals to animals. Special thanks also to the following people who donated the stuffed animals, flowers, frames, candles, wreaths, bows, and ribbons (please contact me if I mistakenly excluded your name in this list):

Barbara Grosh
Julie Duggan
Nancy Pickering
Cinda Kelly
Sherry Rhodes
Kim Black
Friends from Council Rock Primary School
Dana & Rick, Kameron & Delaney Lloyd
Michael Frank
Jen Burger
Christine Rose
Miya Sylvester
Genevieve Waller
Shirley Zimmer
Chrissy and Kathleen Rose
Josh Kessler
Colette Carmouche
Jayne Morgan and Gary
Mary Iwas
Anne McKenna
Friends at Easthouse
Bonnifer Schweizer
Volunteers of America Store, Lake Avenue
Kirsten and Yolanda from the Ridge Road Goodwill Store
Fernando Fiore
Robert Hartz
Allen Topolski
Heather Bischoff
Juliana Muniz
Will Yurman
Mary Ellen and Brian Bailey
Friends from the St. Michael's Church in Troy, NY
Marni Shindelman
Julia and Jim McKay
Grace Seiberling
Stephanie Frontz
Julie O'Rourke
Tess Sparkman
Kaci Anna
Phyllis D. Wagner
Rosanne Rosella and the
Henrietta Public Library
Deborah Brown
Friends and Family of Murdered Children and Victims of Violence
Grace Hong
Cathleen Burnham
Jenny Nakas
LeRoy and Marilyn Layton
Donna Jones
Rachael, Pat, Amber, and Tyler McNamara
Marcy Silver
Mary McGowen
Jackie Bessette
Pittsford Dance Studio
Tracy Mead
Stacie E. Renna
Friends at the George Eastman House
Human Resources Office at the
University of Rochester
Bob and Cathy Jeepers
Stephanie Frontz
Brenda Bobby-Armanini
Bob Hartz
Pittsford PTSA
Anita at the Pittsford Middle School
Uzara Carson
Emily Gryzbowski
Lauren Schleider
Christine Caruana
Miya Sylvester
The Chrinian Family
Martha Poindexter
The Staff at the Red, White, and Blue Store
Marjarie and Probat
The Larsen Family
Jane Morgan and Gary
Sheryl Luppino
The Clifton Park Salvation Army
The Glenville Salvation Army
Teachers and Students at Bergenfield High School
Claire Sykes
Genevieve Waller
Donna Garrie and Chris
Stephanie Ashenfelder
Michael Frank
Kaci Smith
Lynn Barnett
Bea McCloud
Hannah Seems-Parsons
Nicole Haddock
Rick & Cathy Seeger
Cam Schauff

Change is possible.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Preparing to Lose: A Book Of Drawings

The following images are from Preparing to Lose, a book of drawings that addresses the absurdities of war and the notion that our efforts are inefficient at best. While 100% of people prepare to win, the greater majority, inevitably, are preparing to lose.