Tell us about your project.
A lot of my work is about exploring urban coastlines, so when I got to Texas I was thinking about the Gulf and how it’s different from New York, looking at some of the actual material that makes it different.
I began exploring the coast around Corpus Christi. I collected debris that washed up along the beach and made macramé sculptures with casts of the debris. The video is the story of the debris—how it washes up and about people who’s lives entwine with the debris.
What was your inspiration for creating the sculptural works?
In my studio for the past few years I’ve been making similar sculptures, weaving found debris into wall hangings. Now I’ve started to make ceramic casts of the objects and mix them in with found objects.
Most of the debris I find is floatable plastic. When people see this junk on the beach, they don’t necessarily think of it as permanent—it just looks like somebody else’s trash, on its way to a landfill or in the process of decomposing. By making the ceramic casts, I wanted the junk to be slightly unrecognizable and sort of pleasurable to look at. I wanted people to think, “I know what that is—that’s a water bottle.” These sculptures are meant to be discovered in a different part of your brain, like when you are beachcombing, and you come across something unusual. There is a moment of recognition and then a desire for it.
I use rope and string in the sculptures to reference macramé, or ‘fancy work,’ a traditional sailors handicraft used to pass time at sea. As they traveled the world, sailors learned knots from different lands, and the macramé became a record of where they had been. Similarly, my sculpture is a way of telling a story about my exploration.
Who are the people in the video?
This video was shot in Port Aransas with help from The University of Texas Marine Science Institute. Katie Swanson, a marine scientist who specializes in debris, invited me on a collection study of the Padre Island National Seashore. I also accompanied Anthony Amos, a research associate of the University during a similar survey on Mustang Island. Anthony runs a non-profit organization called ‘Friends of the ARK’ (Animal Rehabilitation Keep) to help animals affected by marine debris.
Why are you interested in water and coastlines?
People have a natural connection to water, and yet for some people, floating is an unsettling feeling. I think it is a moment when your body is unstable and you perceive the environment in a different way. The macramé sculptures are floating in space, the video is shot floating over water, and everything is meant to be disjointed and unstable. Most of the work in the show causes the viewer to look up, as though they are underwater. The video is about an unconscious space, and the debris symbolizes an unresolved thought, floating out there—lost.