When my family moved from New Albany, Indiana to Boulder, Colorado in the summer of 2013, we downsized from a comfortable 1,600 square-foot house to a 750 square foot condo. Before leaving Indiana, we made trip after trip to Goodwill, unloading so many appliances, books, clothes, and kitchen utensils that the Goodwill staff soon knew us by name. We sold items on craigslist. We threw away holiday decorations. We encouraged family to take home items they might want. Our abundance of “stuff” became less and less. On the U-Haul trip West, only the essentials survived.
In our condo now, with only the essentials, I am reminded how often objects tell stories. I am also aware of the twin desire that often accompanies this: the desire for more. In my own work and life, I keep returning to these questions of accumulation, need and identity.
Now, living in a new place marked by wide open and empty spaces, I still find myself drawn to Craigslist and boutiques for just the perfect Native American Pendleton Rug and the ideal mid century Danish love seat. Instead of reading poetry or listening to a new musician, I am reading Real Simple and the Top Ten Tips to Improving Your Households Organization.
Instead of looking at the shadows of the clouds and the kaleidoscope of colors on the Front Range mountains, my eyes are drawn to Target hovering on the horizon. What do we need? Do we have enough for the week? What does our sofa pattern say about us?
The rapid pace and increased responsibilities of modern life constantly draw us outside of ourselves and our local communities. How do the choices we make, consumer and otherwise, shape our internal and external worlds? How much is enough?
The history of the West, as I am slowly learning, is the story of accumulation, exploitation, and wide open spaces. Boom and bust. Gold rushes, wind turbines, elaborate sprinkler systems on golf courses, grocery charges for plastic bags, fracking, and community gardens.
I want to create a body of work where these issues and questions of community and consumption continue to shape my work within this new landscape. These questions, while new to me, are ancient; I believe art should leave a record, a living record, of what we used, what we accumulated, let go, gave meaning, and how we lived.