“Address: Earth” at Hudson Valley MOCA
September 1 – December 10, 2022
Gallery is open Thursday and Saturday 11am-5pm
1701 Main St, Peekskill, NY 10566
“Sculpture and Drawings”
My focus for the past seventeen years has been the existential crisis of our time, climate change and its effect upon the environment. This focus began after witnessing hurricane Katrina in 2005 and shortly after, I heard Anthropologist Jared Diamond lecture on the demise of past societies. These two incidents paved a journey of investigation into the links of greed as it effects the environment and one of its major aftermaths, poverty. Poverty is personal. As a young teenager, my father’s illness landed us in a subsidized housing project for three years. This period lingered in my mind as I contemplated the New Orleans ordeal and Dr Diamond’s words. It was evident a dominant minority was manipulating our natural resources to our harm.
These thoughts manifested in a series of room size installations and sculptures. My approach was a focus on the negative effects of climate change. “The Last Tree” the largest installation to date, debuted in SOHO at the ISE Cultural Foundation. Later, an updated version had a six-month view at the Burchfield Penny Art Center in Buffalo NY.
I utilize the unexpected and common materials in ways to stimulate experimentation, allowing new and multiple meanings. I’m a fan of Joseph Beuys and as he did, I take care in selecting raw materials, selecting those primarily from the natural world. Through these salvaged and upcycled materials, I developed unique techniques over time. For example: In a search to represent skin, I concocted a bath to stain silk organza and a variety of papers. It includes salvaged rusted odd objects and tea combined with salt and an encaustic process. Now underway is another experimental technique to create tree branch limbs and stumps, using my distinctively-stained silk organza as the base to felt with human hair. Commonly, felt is made with wool. Felting with human hair alters it, and defines a new purpose.
My current series “Hair Nest”, represented by studies in this exhibition, is a conscious attempt to flip to the positive; to reveal the beauty of an individual tree through the process of drawing and sewing. Each drawing is life size and details a tree’s skin or bark. Throughout the hours-upon-hours of rendering each, I am conscious of two facts: a tree’s resilience to withstand destructive human action, and conversely, our duty to care for these trees, a critical sustainable infrastructure of the planet. To destroy the trees is to eventually destroy ourselves.
It was a natural progression to combine the large tree drawings with my signature component — human hair. Most of my work involves hair; the loss of it, the collection of it and the transformation of it. As noted in the “Hair Nest” series, the nest constructed specifically from my hair loss places me with the tree essentially physically, symbolically, and metaphorically as hair contains our complete DNA. More so, hair contributes to the definition of self as a medium, again metaphorically and literally.
In the series “Luna Window” human hair is used as stuffing to create soft sculptures. The anonymous hair collected from salons over the years of this environmental and poverty leitmotif contains multitudes of DNA and physically represents humanity. Both ladder and animal in “Luna Window: Ladder No.16” are constructed of rust and tea-stained silk organza, and stuffed with substantial volumes of human hair. This body of work speaks specifically to the effects of climate change on the environment and one of its major aftermaths, poverty.