I interpret the contemporary world through a collection of souvenirs and objects, driven by a longing to preserve historical glimpses of a city that may otherwise be lost. I am intrigued by society’s many motivations for collecting. Perhaps it is psychological security; an individual’s attempt to fill a void; fame; or simply an irrational craving to possess. The idea of collecting becomes a much more communal idea by moving a theme as large as history itself into a private space.
The majority of objects presented reflect fabricated belongings of residents of Butte, Montana, dating approximately from 1870 to 1950. Like a collection, the objects signify an attempt to capture a fleeting existence within an intimate space. The combination of both children’s items and tools specific to miners are staged to educe empathy. Neither the job of a child nor the occupation of a miner was a simple endeavor. The city consumed the people, affecting every aspect of life, including health, education, home, and heritage.
I have chosen to construct, wrap, and transform these objects in human hair, thereby retaining their form but also suggesting narratives of intimacy, nurturing, identity, and, ultimately, loss. Beginning in the 15th century hair found its place in the memorial arts throughout Europe and the United States, often placed into small pieces of jewelry, intricate woven flowers, or wreaths. It was a kept reminder of affection and of longing. I wanted to work intimately with hair for these reasons. The objects exist in order to reflect on memories of loved ones, yearning for the past, and, most notably, to uplift the history of a wounded place.
I handle the work as I would handle a piece of my collection: with care and precision, by meticulous means. The introduction of familiar imagery suggests the viewer, too, can reflect on their own objects and narratives of childhood and labor. In this shared moment we can finally see the past as elusive and pure, and respect what these moments, places, and objects mean to us now.