WHAT WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT
WHAT WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT // 2019
I forage for treasures in old trash and put them back into service. These are the domestic discards of former lives—mining-era dinner plates, work boots, barrel straps—that time and weather have transformed. My intention is to re-animate the decaying objects and release them into a new narrative.
In Aspen’s abandoned dumping grounds, I unearth stories: the secret lives of possessions after they were declared trash.
In 2017, I uncovered old bottle fragments, suspending them in the shape of a miner’s shack I called “Homecoming.” It took two years of Fridays to create the original installation: hauling, washing and sorting my finds; building a new story with them. During this excavation, I observed how long it takes for things to decompose. Recognizing that these disposed items were the plastic of their day, I knew I wanted to break the cycle of consumption and create new possibilities for living.
My idea is to re-work this piece endlessly, destroying and re-creating it on spin cycle. I challenge myself to re-imagine new stories and forms for the materials—as many as possible—while preserving the energy used to make them. It is a process of regeneration; no object will remain at the end. By the time I’m done, the only thing left may be a pile of sand (fittingly, the origin of glass). "Ghost Cabin" is the first iteration of this project, breaking the frame by hanging it in a forest.
I am captivated by the things we acquire and throw away, our appetite for accumulation. Why do we keep amassing—and tossing—more stuff? Does it make us feel powerful? Safe?
What lasts? What can we not live without? What remains when we are gone?
I am grateful for the support of many individuals and organizations whose generous donations of time, ideas and resources have made the Ghost Cabin installation possible:
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
Aspen Tree Service
The Catto Center at Toklat