I’m happy to say that my thesis show opening and installation were quite successful! The opening was very well attended and people were happy to participate in the project I have worked so tirelessly on for the past five months!
Here are a few pictures of the completed pile before the opening began, to give you an idea, in case you weren’t able to be there in person.
I ended up with approximately 600 vegetables, and surprisingly only broke about five or six getting them over to the Dorsky Museum. Installing the pile required hauling them from the studio in bushel baskets. And it was raining that day, so you might have an idea of how nervous that made me, considering that they are unfired and the painted juice surface treatment is not permanent by any means.
I began setting up my forms on a platform I made that was derived from a map of the Walkill River Watershed and Subwatershed, which covers the area where all of the materials used were sourced. Here’s the original map and an abstracted one, which I then projected onto a piece of paper 12 feet long, and transferred onto two lengths of 1/2″ sanded plywood, then cut out with a jigsaw.
My intent with this backdrop was to reference the landscape and create a compelling organic shape that would be revealed once the vegetables were removed. I also considered how a long and narrow shape would be easy for people to access from all sides. Here is what it looks like as I started to place the vegetables.
To accompany my pile, I also made a cubic foot of materials in a sealed plexi-glass vitrine, including all of the materials I used with the vegetables, as well as fragments of the fired clay, emphasizing that fired ceramics do not go away, but become part of the landscape. I enjoy how this picture captures a continuation of the pile behind it with its layers.
And in keeping with my show’s title, Borrowed, I devised a library card system for participants to sign out their vegetables. Alongside the pile was a note explaining to the audience that they were encouraged to carefully select a vegetable of their choosing and fill out the requested information in my book. The small library card was intended to go with the participant, so he or she had record of the transaction and understood what he or she was agreeing to.
As one might imagine, when you invite the audience to handle unfired work, there is the risk of breakage. I could tell that the people who broke them were horrified, but I knew it was virtually impossible to keep them all intact, and I wasn’t upset as much as I was entertained. In some ways, seeing a broken form on the floor might have been a good instructional aid for the next person to be a little more gentle.
Food security, afterall, is a delicate matter. If you pull from the bottom of the pile, you can probably guess what might happen.
And borrowers diligently waited in line to sign them out.
I really loved seeing people walking around with their veggies of choice in their hands, and talking to people about the project as they went about the gallery checking out the rest of the show.
I would like to thank everyone who was able to come to the opening and all of you who chose to participate in my project! I am looking very much forward to seeing what sorts of results people have from planting or seed bombing their forms!