I have a fascination with the texture and patterns of trees. Working with wood, therefore, is an extension of this love. Wood retains its history so well–visual scars, burns, its years within its rings, its color, its tone–wood is living even after it has been joined and planed and dried. It contains a percentage of moisture and is vulnerable to levels of humidity, dryness and weather. The idea that a wood tabletop “moves” over time, transcends our ideas of “inanimate objects”.
I have struggled with building and making art without creating more waste or cutting down more trees. When I moved to Portland, Oregon, I was inspired by the myriad of ways people re-purpose materials. I found my love of all things salvage working at The ReBuilding Center and Rejuvenation House Parts, salvage department. Some examples I found readily there–using panel doors for walls, old window frames for framing my artwork, door knobs for coat hooks–ideas for simply using what is available. My learning built upon my natural inclination to collect ephemeral objects, draw on found plywood, newspaper and other “garbage”. Also, with my own experience of living rurally and without much money, I realized one should never throw anything completely “away”, as its use may render apparent at some later date. This seemed a more thoughtful logic when approaching the realities of dealing with our own waste.
Backpacking and recreating in the wilderness has its owns challenges with regard to waste management and is an extension of this conversation for me. How often have I come along a seemingly pristine river, only to find beer cans, burned plastic and fishing line just below the surface or in a makeshift fire ring. The other day I found a clothes hanger! These stages of human garbage are not only disrespectful acts to others hoping to seek wild-ness, but more importantly to the land itself and the neighbors we often neglect–plants, animals, fish, soil inhabitants… This and my own mistakes of the past, have motivated me to strictly follow “Leave No Trace” ethics and to combine art making and building with information and inspiration about our responsibilities as co-caretakers of the Earth. My ongoing commitment to this is represented in my sculptural exploration of the objects and circumstances of our garbage. As a fisherman, I am also concerned with the amount of waste this recreational industry produces in our rivers. I focus a lot of my efforts in this area.