While cleaning, I stumbled across a container of clay I had collected from my grandparent’s property as a child. It was unnerving to realize that, while I knew where the clay had come from, I had no actual memory of collecting it. As my loved one’s age, I am confronted by the unsettling fact of both their, and my, memory loss.
I believe that the lens through which we explore loss becomes an important tool in the articulation of narrative. My experience growing up on grandparent’s property on the edge of the Allegheny wilderness played an important role in shaping who I am today, fostering a personally important connection to landscape. I am attempting to find meaning in my loss of place through the exploration of my relationship to place and the interweaving degradation of place and memory.
I collected clay and glaze material from their property. This raw material is processed into a clay body, a colorant, and a glaze and formed into objects with specific uses made to act as a trigger for a memory linked to the object. Material, intended use, form, and imagery coalesce to act as a trigger a memory of a precise instant in time.
Things that we integrate into our everyday lives become a synergist for memory triggered by use of the object. By creating an object that holds a specific purpose, is created with material from a specific location and contains imagery of that place, I create an object that acts as a memory catalyst and, while not celebrating loss, finds beauty and meaning in loss. Ultimately, I am finding agency in the preservation of my memory and the re-articulation of my narrative.
These brick-like structures are in the process transitioning from human habitation to plant
habitation. They are the most suitable habitat for roadside flora of North Western Pennsylvania and can typically be found residing along back roads. They may be difficult to identify at first as wild flora has since taken up residents in these abandoned structures, sometimes hiding the structure completely, as the plants adapt to this new environment.
the Scarlet Tanager
The second of two vestigial memory objects representing
a specific instance in time. This object crystallizes four
seconds of memory in which a Scarlet Tanager was
sighted among the Eastern White Pine. The elusive
migratory bird made no appearances later on.
A Thermos for the specific purpose of transporting coffee
on the first day of deer season in Chapman’s Dam State
Park. The Thermos includes a map to the deer stand with
keys. This is helpful in the event of rolling the incorrect
gully. The Thermos is to be used after one reaches the
Deer Stand and is to be shared by all present. During the
latter part of the morning, sometimes early afternoon, the
Thermos will be depleted of coffee.
This Object is used to serve the very first
rainbow trout one catches with specific stipulations
as to how the object functions. First, the
trout must be a rainbow trout which had escaped
over the dam of Chapmans Dam State Park.
Second, the trout must be caught in a bucket by
means of “fish herding”, without the use of
traditional fishing gear. Lastly, once caught, the
trout is cooked in a traditional manner.
Preparation of Pine Needle Tea
A tea set for the preparation of white pine tea.
The leaves of the Eastern White Pine are are
collected from Chapman's Dam State Park and
steeped in boiling water. Set is typically used by
a single participant in early spring.
of Western Pennsylvania
These objects fulfill two primary functions.
First, they are washed after consuming a family
meal in which two to eight participants have
engaged. The washing is typically performed by
two to four participants while drinking coffee.
During this washing ceremony, the participants
pay close attention to the birds outside of the
window adjacent to the event. The dishes are
used, as their second function,to identify bird
with a Doe”
This object can be identified with ease, as it
is one of two vestigial memory objects
representing a specific instance in time.
One will notice the White-Tailed Doe
peering back at you. If you listen carefully,
you may even hear the noise of a curious
white tailed deer trapped within the object.
The origin of the object is still under investigation.
The flood swollen creeks of North Western
Pennsylvania often carry objects far from
their point of origin. The object is used to boil
the native crayfish over a small campfire. In
order to engage with this object, participants
must harvest crayfish from the adjacent stream. Typically, a small waterproof containment
device is used to house the crayfish while creek
water is boiled.
Berries in the
Allegheny National Forest
A berry basket and drainer dish for harvesting the red
raspberries that grow prolific in North Western
Pennsylvania. This object is typically put into use
during the mid to late summer, when the raspberries
are ripest. Care must be taken when using this object
as thorns present a common complication to the
berry harvesting process.
on the Porch in the Evening
This object is used to serve peach iced tea on the
front porch while overlooking the forest. The
object is typically used by two to six participants
during the evening hours of the late spring and
summer. While using this object, participants
will simultaneously engage in conversation and
the observation of Ruby Throated Humming