1,000 Square Feet (0.00701459%) Project
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 project in a new trajectory of community research and studio work dedicated to bringing awareness to the issues of plastic contamination and garbage in our oceans.
The work is site-responsive and reflective of a multitude of global shorelines - each print is made with handmade paper created with collected local water and monoprinted with imagery created from plastic debris that is collected on site - focusing on place-based information as source material. To date, this project has explored and includes dedicated segments based on the shorelines of sites in Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Benin, West Africa.
An important element of this work is the sampling of local water as a resource for my papermaking process. I float paper fibers in the site-specific water to create each sheet of paper. Through working with handmade paper, I engage with water - in this case site-specific water - to create imagery that is directly tied, both materially and conceptually, to that same water. Utilizing local water in this way is integral to the project; physical and conceptual traces of specificity remain in the paper object long after the individual fibers of pulp have coalesced and dried. The paper, and the resultant artwork, is deeply layered with remnants of that moment, becoming an artifact of a performatory process.
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.
These experiences, in part, have 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.
The way that water is connected throughout our planet inspires 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 and Easton, PA. This tideline detritus occupies 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.