What is your process for creating these sculptures?
In a lot of my work I’m concerned with the conditions under which something gets made and how those conditions manifest in the material in a palpable way. So in a sense I go to a starting point, in this instance it’s a tile, and from there I take on materials that require a different level of intention or craftsmanship. The sculpture Talctotile is made of an existing 300-pound piece of talc and pink bathroom tiles I found at an architectural salvage place. I decided not to carve the talc, so as not to impose a form, and let the shape of the talc piece direct the shape of the tile base. To me, these materials are on two ends of a spectrum and bridging that gap becomes the directive I choose to follow. It’s the in-between space that determines whether it’s successful. In this instance the talc is kind of waxy and looks a lot like soap, which made me think, “Why don’t I just use soap?” The transition is about materiality and it’s also color—pink. Setting these parameters kind of opens up possibilities—it’s a way of activating everything I come across in the world.
Before my Artpace residency, I dug up the root ball from a tree that needed to come down. For a couple seasons, I picked up road kill and dropped it on the root ball. By letting these things decompose, I knew the ball of dirt would become super fertilized and enable other things to grow. I planted starter trees where this tiny decomposition island is, which will serve a structural purpose in the preservation of the object.
Your work is about the process, so how do you think about the gallery space and the end result?
My work is less about representation, and more an interest in having something demonstrate the process. When you enter the gallery you know something happened, without having to read about it or have previous knowledge about art. I’m giving you points of entry that hopefully convey in a broad sense these ideas about modes of thinking and how they influence the work.
How is your work experimental?
In a very practical sense my work is experimental because, for instance, I’ve never done anything with soap before, and there are technical questions about how to work with certain materials and their chemical changes. As part of my process, I take on something I don’t really know about and look at how I have to adapt my thinking to make it happen. By design my process takes out the subjectivity in making. This is a way of dictating the process and forcing myself to adapt. I love this confluence of things that aren’t supposed to jive and trying to make it happen for the sake of an unforeseen result. Within that there’s a rollercoaster of doing—something may seem impossible, and then it works and you think, “That’s amazing.”
It’s a way of gaining knowledge—the notion of arriving at an understanding and being able to identify nuance of a material through this task that has really no application in the world at all. I love these endeavors that are kind of dead-end. I love that art, as this catchall discipline, allows for you to explore.