Wall to Wall commission Birmingham Museum of Art

When they piled up land like garbage and thought a fence would save them is based on visiting the superfund site in North Birmingham, where chainlink fences are unable to stop the movement of air and rainwater polluted with heavy metals, arsenic and benzo(a)pyrene. The yellow, gray and black circles and dashes serve to mark these pollutants as they pass through lines made for dividing humans and other animals, but remain incapable of stopping the force or flow of air and water. (mirrored & repeated image will wrap the lobby)

When they built fences against air and water and ignored the ones they were killingwas created under the weight of visiting the superfund site, Valley Creek, old mines, and driving by coke plants. These sites brought back the weight of industrial pollution and the damage to land and water I experienced growing up in Baltimore and in living in Pittsburgh during my undergraduate studies. The weight of what has been done to land and water in the pursuit of industrial production is immense. While the legacy of industrial abandoned wreckage is fenced off, the practices that produce this wreckage continue in and around communities of color that have been systemically oppressed, exacting further damage through environmental racism. (mirrored & repeated on the hallway walls)

Skydome bends down to see why Water is so heavyand When the sky made an escape ladder for the fast water lilies are based on visiting the Cahaba River and the surrounding area, and research on the Cahaba River ecosystem. These paintings are love letters to land and water, and the resilience and wisdom they contain. They are acknowledgements of the weight recent human behavior has placed on them, and on the gravity of the imbalances current human behavior enforces. The works are a reminder that sky does bend down to meet land and water and when this happens our structures are wiped out. The works are a reminder that features of land and water we value for their beauty are not here for us, that they are as important as we are, and that we are all connected to what recent human behavior has devalued to the point of poisoning. These paintings celebrate capacity for survival in a good way through cooperative effort while mourning devastation that creates need for escape. 

Created in 2020 for the Birmingham museum of Art after visiting surrounding land and water. These four paintings depict the resilience of land and water, and the limitations of our capacity to see and understand them. The works celebrate land and water while reflecting damage inflicted by ideologies and systems that view land as a resource for generating capital. They are now in the museum’s permanent collection. The works were used to create wall paper covering the public areas of the museum’s first floor as part of the museum’s inaugural Wall to Wall project curated by Hallie Ringle with Emily Hanna.

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