Project: 1,000 Square Feet (0.00701459%)
Watercolor monoprints and suminagashi on site-specific handmade paper
400 square feet, 2017 - ongoing
1,000 Square Feet (0.00701459%) is a long-term project rooted in site-specific time spent observing waterways. Started during a 2017 residency at the Tides Institute in Eastport, Maine, the end result of the project will be 1,000 print-based images inspired by the horrific mass of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This is the first stage in a much large project dedicated to bringing awareness to the issue of garbage in our oceans.
Much of my recent work has been inspired, either directly or tangentially, through my experience working as an artist onboard ships. In 2013 I sailed through the High Arctic aboard the Antigua with The Arctic Circle residency program. In 2014, I sailed on the last remaining wooden whaleship in the world, in residence as part of the The 38th Voyage program at Mystic Seaport, CT. Throughout both residencies, and on other shipboard cruises, I have come to be fascinated by the ocean, and dramatically more aware of shoreline pollution washed up in the tide. Particularly in the Arctic, while hiking daily on the archipelago of Svalbard, we were shocked to discover the enormous amount of garbage washed ashore in a remote, largely uninhabited place.
In response to these residencies, I have been co-authoring a collaborative writing derived from years of engagement in worlds of life on water by both myself, blending art and science through multiple artist residencies on sailing ships, and my writing collaborator Stephanie Steinhardt, a Ph.D. candidate who has ethnographically studied scientists’ work with the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). Our writing joins a growing global body of work that seeks insight from artistic expression for understanding concerns central to science and technology studies. The work seeks to engage communities of minorities and promote the visibility of women in science, artists in science, and women at sea, all areas that are surprisingly underrepresented to this day.
It is these experiences and this collaborative writing that has partly inspired me to begin this project to document the Great Pacific Garbage Patch from afar. Working at the Tides Institute, specifically the waterfront of Eastport, was greatly inspiring to this new body of work. Creating handmade paper from local waters, and using suminagashi and watercolor monoprint, I am creating images of a repetition of shapes throughout the series of work, symbolizing the role of consumerist goods and mass-market culture in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 100 images were made in Eastport, Maine. 100 images were made in the Meadowlands of NJ. 100 images were made in Benin, West Africa. During my time in Easton, I will make another 100 images, based on the waterfront of local waterways. Each one of the images will be a modest 1 foot by 1 foot in dimension. These will eventually be followed by 6 other site-specific collections of 100 prints, totaling 1,000 prints at 1,000 square feet, the equivalent of 0.00701459% of the actual garbage patch.
Being near the ocean feels like being near all of the oceans. The way that water is connected throughout our planet makes me feel the connection of this project to the water off the coast of Eastport and back to the waterline in Newark, NJ. Pieces of plastic trash were collected on walks along the coastline in Shackford Head State Park, specifically looking for marine trash to use as source material for my Eastport images. Similar walks were conducted in the Meadowlands of NJ and along the coastline while on a trip to Benin, West Africa. These patterns of connection and extraction will be followed for an expedition in Easton, PA. I will walk the Easton waterline to look for similar bits of plastic trash - from these bits I will cobble together another section of my fictitious garbage patch. This tideline detritus seems to occupy an ambiguously transitory space - a prime space for reimagining the worst fate of this refuse while simultaneously removing it from the equation that would make it so.
Lexicon A and B (Shackford Head State Park, Eastport Maine, August 2017)
Gouache and graphite on tan Rives BFK paper,
22 x 30 inches each, 2017
The work represented in Lexicon is a preparatory series that foreshadows a larger, complex installation of prints. It sets up the fictional language used to convey the body of a space that can never be fully seen or understood. Specifically, the paintings in Lexicon (Shackfordhead State Park, Eastport Maine, August 2017) represents a small subset of a curated, articulated vocabulary to represent a 1,000 square foot portion of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - or 0.00701459% of the whole of the surface. Plastic garbage bits are cleaned from a beach in the northeastern US and used to represent a fictional account of the garbage patch. The Maine Lexicon is the first of many coastal Lexicons that together will create the complex language for the end project. While these images are true to the objects they represent, they seek to represent a larger, fictional narrative paradoxically bred out of consequence.