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Shangri-La (RE-MISSION Collection)


mixed media / recycled materials

27" x 15"


In the 1950’s, my great-grandparents bought a farm and established a floral nursery called "Shangri-La." Instead of inheriting paradise, my generation was passed down environmental crises, record inflation, and a relentless housing bubble. I could never dream of being able to buy back my ancestral gardens, but even as I am shuttled from rental to rental, recycled materials present the opportunity to use my creative inheritance to transform this volatile ecology into my own personal “Shangri-La.” And perhaps, with the Source already among us, “this whole world springing up from it.”

My ancestors were creators, collectors, and curators: of coaches, of industry, of art, and of nature. It is physically and genetically impossible for me to set foot on a beach without amassing pockets-full of seashells. I'm fascinated with the rich artistic history in my family, but lack the most important necessity for creating my own collection: a home. Between my transatlantic marriage and the sky-rocketing real estate market on both sides of the pond, I've been unable to root myself in a space for more than 3 years at a time, or conceive of the funds required to transport such an ambitious curation, even of postcards and photographs. I am not, and never will be, a minimalist or tiny-house owner. I need my art. Such was the dilemma even before contracting chronic illness and disability and being zapped of energy and gainful employment.

The RE-MISSION collection honors several facets of preserving the past, embracing the present, and respecting the capricious future. Taking inspiration from the photographs, stories, experiences, and even waste of the past, I accept that, along with the present moment, my time with them may be short. The act of creation may be the only relationship I keep with my art, always uncertain of its trajectory and aware of its potential to end up in the garbage or donation bin when the eviction notice gets delivered or the visa gets stamped.

At such a material and financial loss, its wise to keep my expenses not much higher than a dumpster dive, and my expectations confined to a consoling pat on the back. In the meantime, I can say I took the losses of inheritance, of environment, of security, of opportunity, and of health, and constructed from destruction, created from expiration, gained from loss. What greater purpose can we attain?

An excerpt from Rumi printed on a blank title page, and leaves cut from images of 1970's-era art encyclopedias. The book is handmade from an old hymnal destined for the trash, scrap matboard, and fabric from a yard sale. Floral stems and wire handed down from my late aunt, a prolific crafter.

Roses bloom from my roots in Pennsylvania, Scotland, and Budapest. Buttons from my grandmother's "biscuit tin."

The fruits of my beachcombing obsession, wire "grapevine" from spiral-bound notebooks, and succulents - sempervivum, "forever alive" - from pistachio shells. The colors of paint are confined to those which I find in the clearance aisle or thrift store.

A flourish of used guitar strings and "Spanish moss" hand cut and curled from recycled mail packaging. The frame was acquired years ago for 1 or 2 dollars from a yard sale.

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