Common Ground

Used wood, marine foam, anchors
8’ x 8’ x 4’10’’

Bodies of water are typically deemed outside of ownership. As public spaces they serve as rare surviving examples of a commons, a space that is self governed by the surrounding public. In the winter these northern Maine lakes become populated by small make-shift shacks, temporary structures for gathering and fishing.

Common Ground translates the intimacy of these winter huts, focusing us on the affects of this kind of communal space, allowing us to be at once outside and inside, isolated and together. 


Screen, 2x4’s, lenses, Monteray oak tree, birdfeeder
28’ x 18’ x 8’

This installation was created for an abandoned lot in East Austin that was recently bought by a gallery space. The work responds to the past, present, and future use of the site. In viewing the site through the work, the viewer is asked to consider more than what they are looking at, to reflect on the larger framework presented as they see through it.

The narrative below describes a story from origonal site and its translation into the final work:

The only reason his tent was visible was because it was winter; everything was raw then, exposed. He told me a story about how he came to live there. He said a lot of things, in broken sentences. I was listening with a lens: I was interested in the lot, in its relationship to something about the wild, about ownership, and the gentrification of East Austin. So I mostly heard one story -- it was a story about birds. He told me that before this he lived for years in Zilker Park, as far away as he could and still walk out for beer. He said he liked it back there because it was just him alone, and the birds. He told me one day he got thrown out -- the cops came and dragged him out of his home. He swore it was the birdwatchers. He repeated this part three times. The only reason the cops knew he was there was because of the birdwatchers; they were the only ones ever back there and he didn’t fit their view, so they got rid of him.

Working from this story, I built an installation for the gallery’s lot, looking to animate something of the tension in his words. I was interested in the shared intention of the two opposing parties, both seeking nature as a sanctuary, a space isolated from others. In my work I am interested in the definition of the word “nature” and the implications of its articulation; in his story, the birdwatchers restrict natural to mean a kind of ecological sanctuary, one that has no room for another human body; in this reduction there is an act of violence. The architectural installation, built from screen and lenses, creates an experience where the viewer is at once the watcher and the watched. The circular motion through the work curates a physical and visual restriction, one that does not lead to a culminating moment, but instead acts as a series of focused and obscured viewpoints. This narrative through the space encourages us to consider more than what we are looking at, to reflect on the larger framework presented as we see through it. The work asks us to examine how our own biases shape this process, succeeding and falling short of genuine seeing.