With thanks to Kelly Ludeking and Eric W. Stephenson for their help organizing and running the iron pour. Additional thanks to Mosnart, Pullman Arts, the Pullman Historic Site, and the Pullman community for hosting!
Groundwork is a reflection on history, labor, industry, boundaries and growth. Working together, the artists presented new works in a variety of materials on the grounds of the Pullman State Historic Site.
The exhibit was in two parts: Part 1 was an iron pour on the factory grounds where members of the community were invited to participate by creating tiles to be cast in iron. Part 2 was a site-specific art installation within the Clock Tower and Administration Building.
“The iron pour brings to life the community and foundry history of the factory in a dramatic and fiery way- an exciting chance for the public to participate in and learn about the processes that used to happen within the factory. Remnants from the pour create a site-specific installation within the factory, supplemented by other found and existing works. This more reflective installation offers an outside perspective on the spirit that built Pullman and the events that lead to its present state.”
Community Iron Pour/Groundwork I
with Kelly Ludeking of KRL Metals
While researching the history of Pullman I realized that I wanted to bring the foundry/assembly line process literally alive instead of just referencing it in an abstract way. The idea of a community iron pour felt right because it resonated with both Pullman’s strong tradition of community and its industrial past. I also loved the idea of a group of artisans working with people in the neighborhood and sharing the experience of creating together.
After the iron pour I then gathered the left over remnants – drips of metal, coal, debris on the ground- and assembled them into a site specific installation within the clock tower. I consider these elements a poetic and eloquent trace of the event- by drawing attention to them I hope to emphasize the beauty within the industrial and create some uncertainty about what was found and what was made.
When photographing the factory I was repeatedly struck by the beautiful patterns created by the crumbling bricks within the architecture. Strata references those patterns, and attempts to stratify/make solid the layers of dust that fall through the space through the interaction of glass and light.
The end of the Pullman line is near my studio in Oakland- this piece was made by taking a mold of the ground there and casting it in aluminum. The repetitive work of manufacturing tends to leave consistent marks and traces on the ground- by casting these I wanted to draw attention to these usually invisible patterns.
The pickets are meant to reference the quaint fences that surrounded many of the original houses in Pullman while at the same time quietly calling attention to the labor struggles of the era/town. The Pullman Strike of 1894 turned the area around the factory and many other related sites around the country into a battle zone between the picketing strikers and, eventually, 12,000 federal troops
White pickets are ubiquitous in front yards and bring to mind thoughts of family, protection, and imply success and stability. In war, pickets stand guard. Posted ahead of the main offensive, ready to give warning of an imminent attack. A pointed picket fence could also surround an encampment for protection.
While personally manufacturing ~160 white pickets with cast concrete bases I was attempting to emulate the mass production/manufacturing spirit of the original workers in the factory. With the time I had, over the past 12 months, this was as much as I could physically produce, even with helpers.
The reflective nature of many of the surfaces that makeup my contribution to this exhibition are meant to catch peoples attention, and hopefully make them look and think twice about where they stand.
Hopefully the reflective qualities bring up internal images and thoughts of oneself navigating the modern world (think walking down the street in a city) and help people safely/efficiently get to where they want to be in life.
These spatial interventions use neon to highlight found objects and rearrangements in the space, raising questions about what was already there and what was added and altered. Using debris from the iron pour, they draw attention to the beauty of those objects as well as the intrusions from nature such as plants and the crumbling floor.