Hearts and Brains, statement
Norcal, now Recology, for the last twenty years has offered a artists in-residency program. Over the course of three months, chosen artist are given an onsite studio, with 24 hour access. The artist is also given complete access to the waste that passes through the dump from which he or she reclaims objects and materials in order to make art. At the end of the three months the studio is transformed into a gallery and all the work produced during the residency is displayed
When I first arrived to begin my residency I had several ideas I had planned to accomplish during my three months at the dump. I completed none of them, all of them replaced by new and unexpected ideas.
It took two weeks for the shock to wear off. Overwhelmed by the shear amount and variety of waste that passes through the transfer station, I began to realize that this process is more like improvisational theater, that forcing an idea just wasn't the best way to approach working at the dump. Standing in the trash trying to will something to appear generally didn’t work, but as time passed I began to gravitate to the objects and materials that seem to make some intuitive sense. After I had lived with them for a bit in the studio, connections began to become apparent, and I began to experiment with ideas I hadn't considered before.
The overall it was one of the most enriching experiences I have ever had as an artist. I experimented with new materials and new ideas, creating a body of work much of which was vastly different from anything I would have produced, isolated in my own studio. Working at the dump also exposed me to the immense amount of waste, much of it reusable that finds its way into the finite landfills around the world. Each artist I have spoken to who has completed the artist in residence program at the dump has spoken of the initial depression one has seeing the never ending stream of refuse, and how we as individuals leave a much bigger environmental footprint than we ever imagined.