Dear Nobody chronicles the passage of time through accumulation and repetitive action. For many people each passing day is bookended by habitual or ritualistic activities. We start and end our days with a routine that is both comforting and mechanical. If one element of our daily routine is disrupted we can become keenly aware of each action. In May of 2011 my routine changed. I took on the arduous task of finding a job. At the outset, each letter I wrote was meticulous; find the right word, fit myself onto a sheet of paper. After a while this action, like many others became mechanical. “Check the job listings and scour websites – don’t put it off or the perfect opportunity might pass you by.” Letter by letter, word by word every detail began to fade away. “Where did I send that last letter?”
Every night, every morning – check. Write a letter. Check again. 470 days of letters.
Dis[Place] - 2011 Acrylic and Mixed Media Installation
The coal mining industry sculpted a landscape and a culture unique to Northeast Pennsylvania.Economic booms, engineering advancements, industry downturns, and mine disasters all play a role in the modern-day social, geological and economic make-up of the area. Coal mining defined the area, bringing in people and businesses that would forever alter the landscape. The city of Scranton was built up and at the same time built down as if the networks above and below the ground are mirror images of each other. The act of channeling below the surface has altered my perception of the horizon. The mines allow for surface air, water and fire to back-fill the empty spaces; at the same time, the earth removed from the ground, has shaped and changed the surface landscape. This displacement of elements has given a vibrant, and yet unsettled, energy to this city.
Landscape painting became an important aspect of American art history during the middle of the nineteenth-century. The Hudson River School used their artwork to showcase the untamed American wilderness and create excitement about our vast nation. [Dis]Place challenges the traditional depiction of landscape by reexamining the horizon line; allowing subterranean forms to become important to the compositions. Non-traditional installations allow for the viewer see the works from a variety of viewpoints. Ascending or descending the stairs changes the experience of this landscape; moving from “underground to surface” and/or “surface to underground.”
[Dis]Place is a cross-section of Scranton’s unique industrial history, framing both the landscape of our present and the foundations of our past.
Subsidence - 2011 Acrylic and Mixed Media Installation
Subsidence by definition is the settling of a tract of land. The phenomenon often occurs in areas which are situated over a void in the underlying earth. Sub-surface mining has created hundreds of miles of voids which stretch across the Western Northern Anthracite Field of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The city of Scranton sits upon a honeycomb of tunnels, tenuously balancing on small pillars of earth.
Mining in Northeastern Pennsylvania dates back to 1775; peaking in the 1920’s and dying out in the mid 1960’s. During this time room-and-pillar mining was a popular method of obtaining anthracite coal. After 200 years of erosion and bootleg mining these pillars often succumb to the weight of the earth above them causing subsidences.
The installation Subsidence places the viewer at eye level with these subterranean shifts, forcing them to confront the reality that sub-surface voids exist directly beneath us. Negative spaces and excess material call attention to the displacement of earth, while the presence of human participation reminds us that the empty space below us is wholly manufactured. The removal of the coal has created a landscape whose foundation has been unnaturally weakened; leaving the ever-present feeling that it can be dramatically altered at any moment.