Remnants of the Anthropocene
Approx. 3' across, 1' tall. Driftwood, upcycled plastic bag 'yarn', fishing wire.
The intense storms in the winter of 2022 transformed the landscape of California. I return to the same beach that I have for seven years only to find it deeply unfamiliar, the shoreline transformed. Trees have fallen — old, huge trees, as old as the streets they line.
The rain washes human waste into the ocean. The sand we laid artificially on the landscape to make it more appealing for us to sit on. The plastic and garbage that we littered, chemicals and oils, all rinsing away.
How better to capture this profound unfamiliarity with an unfamiliar process? This was easily the most labor intensive project I have ever taken. Collecting and bleaching driftwood, cutting plastic bags into interlocking loops, then spinning them on a spindle, then painstakingly crocheting that same yarn. I'm a painter. I don't usually work with my hands in this way.
I walked away with a vibrant appreciation of labor and an unsettling feeling in my stomach. All this work to transform reusable trash into a useless object. Is this upcycling? Is this better than reusing the bags for their intended purpose? What is the point of putting all this labor in, to them produce something utterly useless? Ever since this project, I've been fixated on the impact of the material reality of being an artist — a realm as unfamiliar as the new shoreline.