Artificial Habitat I
‘Artificial Habitat I’ was my first attempt at creating a sculpture that interacts with its ecosystem. It’s carved out of a solid pine log, and is installed at the Davistown Museum Sculpture Garden in Bar Harbor, Maine. I was inspired by a project from the conceptual artist Mel Chin called ‘Revival Fields’. His concept was to take a piece of land contaminated by industrial pollutants and sculpt away the heavy metal contaminants in the same way a sculptor sculpts away clay or marble. I was moved by the idea that a real world outcome could be considered a work of art, but I wanted to make a piece that was more of a visual and aesthetic object than ‘Revival Fields’. I wanted my training in the visual arts to contribute to the success of the piece. The goal was to make a sculpture that could provide wildlife habitat in a landscape degraded by human activity. The sculpture is an anthropomorphic form carved out of a single log. Parts of the wood are meant to rot: providing food and shelter for insects. Deep cuts are made in the wood in a rhythmic pattern. These niches provide shelter for small animals, as well as creating a visual pattern for the human eye. This kind of synergy between art and utility is what I continue to search for in my work.
Human Bull Frog
‘Human Bull Frog’ was designed for a yard or residential garden as an experimental way to enhance the space ecologically, and add aesthetic interest for human viewers. It is the second in my series of Artificial Habitat Sculptures. The base is a hybrid creature made from the body of a frog, the head of a bull, and the hands of a human. The column that extends from the creature’s back terminates in three limbs that function as bird perches, or possible nesting sites. A network of funnels and pipes inside the column direct captured rainwater to a plant basin at the base of the column. The piping also feeds into containers of organic matter that provide growing conditions for microorganisms and fungi. My hope was that a vine could be planted in the central basin, and the entire column would be covered in foliage. The imagery of a human-animal hybrid was meant to compliment the sculpture’s function of bringing wildlife in to a man-made space. ’Human Bull Frog’ was temporarily installed in the Arronson Courtyard of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Experiments on Vacant Land
Philadelphia has 40,000 vacant properties within city limits. Many are owned by the city, and most have no plans for future development. The goal of this project is to take a second look at these neglected spaces, and envision them as spaces with limitless potential. This was a series of guerrilla art installations/performances located in vacant and neglected properties around the city of Philadelphia. These installations were improvised with some basic tools, paints, and materials found on site. On each of the outings I was accompanied by Kat Nania, a Philly based architectural photographer who documented the installations. The project culminated in a public exhibition of photographs and objects hosted by the Hamilton Hall Public Art Initiative in Center City Philadelphia.
Gnome Home (in progress)
Gnome Home is an ecology-sculpture that houses humans on the inside and wildlife on the outside. Through the use of natural building techniques and permaculture, Gnome Home is a sculpture that sustains all life - humans, plants, and animals. It is located on the property of Sweet Pea’s Farm in Bar Harbor, ME.
The project is spearheaded by myself and my partner, Luna Shen. Our community partners include The Community School in Somesville Maine, Sweet Pea’s Farm in Bar Harbor, Design Group Collaborative in Ellsworth Maine, and Middlebury College in Middlebury Vermont. Use the Contact page if you would like to find out about volunteer opportunities, or are interested in learning more about the project!
DGC Permasculpture Garden (in progress)
This permaculture/sculpture garden is a collaboration with Ellsworth based architecture firm Design Group Collaborative. The garden sits on the site of a former grass lawn outside the Design Group Collaborative office building. It has been an ongoing project since 2016. The first two years were spent improving the soil, and making site observations.
A permaculture garden is a garden designed around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems. I coined the term “permasculpture” to describe a permaculture garden in which sculptures serve functional roles such as trellises and planters. They can enhance the visual interest of a garden by complimenting or contrasting with the natural forms of plants and animals. And most intriguing to me, they can help the garden to provide habitat in densely populated areas.
Interconnections Public Mural
‘Interconnections’ is a mural on the SMCC campus that contains numerous small scenarios and interactions that are interconnected to make a large collective image.
I made several studies for the mural, mostly using the Buddhist principle of interconnection between nature and all living things. Feeling connected is something that had helped me in the past, so my hope was to have some positive psychological impact on the viewers. This scenes portrayed flux or morphing between humans, animals, nature, all connected and interacting. I wanted to create a surface incredibly dense with visual information that can’t be absorbed at first glance. The mural will be on both a micro and macro scale, so it will instill the message that our individual lives are a part of a much larger universal fabric.