Shrine to the Undeveloped Child

This piece that was installed July 26-August 2, 2018 at the Vermont College of Fine Arts functions both as documentation of the labor of undoing a garden taken over by invasive plants as well as an ode to that which never came to be.

The performative act of cutting down vines and digging out old roots that had grown unchecked for over ten years was a physical act that took on a metaphor for unlearning toxic thoughts. From this labor I wanted to create something that looked beautiful yet was hostile or oppressive the way many of our formative relationships within a dominating culture often are. What resulted was a space of arrested development – it is a collection of precious things belonging to someone who is neither adult nor child. The collection is held within a tent – or cage – made of thorns and ivy which protect the collection from outsiders, but also threaten to strangle it, keeping it captive.

 

Installing outside inserts a time element that a work in the gallery might not have, and I had decided I would not touch the work once it was installed. Despite looking protective, the vines could do nothing to prevent the elements from interfering with the work, and during some summer storms, the installation was filled with water, and knocked over by the wind. In an effort to be helpful someone picked up the table and tried to rearrange the pieces, but they didn’t know how it was meant to be put together. This helpful community member was trying to do the right thing, but didn’t know the rules the artist had set, and instead of letting nature take its course, intervened. It was very much like well meaning attempts by volunteers, charitable events, and even friends who try to help, but are uninformed.