I spent two days clearing the overgrowth from our neglected garden on the suggestion that my creations would look less like trash strewn haphazardly about. During this time I recalled memories of working along-side my grandmother in her garden when I was a teen. Names of the plants came to my mind and I could almost hear her voice as she instructed me on the care of every plant. She passed a wealth of knowledge down to me along with her love and respect for nature. This was a great gift and I believe I should pay it forward by working to raise awareness through my art on the threats to our beautiful planet. As I cleared, I also realized that my initial idea for this installation could not convey this deep respect for nature. I became convinced that no matter how neat the space if I did not pursue a more realistic representation my message would become as jumbled as the landfills and floating trash islands I am concerned about and might be lost altogether. I wanted to work WITH the spiritual qualities I could feel rising from this peaceful little garden, not against them. So I went back to the drawing board……
The first step was to explore the collection of material I have so lovingly cherished for two years. Pulling out the many bags and boxes of colorful styrofoam, cellophane bags, plastic bottles with colorful labels – I began to ‘see’ flowers. Using google search I entered terms such as “yellow flowers” and “blue flowers” and scrolled through the images. As I narrowed down my search I would also see flowers so beautiful that I longed to be able to recreate them in my studio. So I would go back to my piles and boxes of post consumer packaging and search for material to make it work. This process for me is not a hurried, careless pawing through my stuff but rather a deliberate and thoughtful sifting. To me the results are always worth the extra time.
So now I will let those results speak for themselves. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them.
The process I follow is about exploration and discovery. I start with an idea and I can usually picture in my mind what I hope the finished product will look like. After I get started I sometimes find it necessary to be open and adaptable. Plastics and foam have a ‘memory’ and sometimes it just doesn’t look like my vision. Or, I might find during the process of working with the material that another form develops. I try not to get too attached to my original idea about form so I can see new possibilities as they occur. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes struggle, I just work intuitively. By allowing myself this freedom to explore I am allowing my vision to evolve.
My material selections will change as I work like a painter choosing different color schemes.
Nature provided models for some of the flowers……..
Others were taken from images.
After I decided on a form I spent time carefully sorting through my materials until I found something that fit. Sometimes while sorting I would come across a piece of material that suggested a flower. Then I would go back to searching for images until I found the flower that fit my stuff!
Are these flowers? Are you sure? I think they are really alien life forms……..
I know this because I found their communicator thingy…….
Or they could be flowers from the future.
For this project I will continue to use post-consumer materials that cannot be recycled therefore must be discarded in landfills. Much of this material includes cellophane and plastic wrapping for food, Styrofoam packaging, plastic bottle caps and straws, etc. items that often end up discarded along the way including along the beaches and shorelines.
During Spring 2012 I collected everything from my household that was to be discarded or recycled. By the end of the project I had become slightly obsessed about not tossing out anything that held possibilities for re-creation into something that could be seen as valuable. The result has been an endless supply of material to sculpt with and tremendous insight into the nature of our consumer culture, my consumer habits, and the peril these habits hold for our beautiful yet fragile planet. When my grandson was born a year ago and I held him in my arms for the first time I knew I would always want a better world for him to grow up in and to have that I would have to do my part. The Hangout Project became the first in what I hope will be an ongoing series and become part of the dialogue about the environment.