2011 | large-scale site-specific installation created with fossils: coral, indigenous gypsum fragments/powder, processed gypsum, 750 square meters (8000 square feet) burnt limestone/concrete floor, rainwater | abandoned industrial building, Grand Rapids, MI, USA - ArtPrize venue - SiTE:Lab + University of Michigan School of Art & Design | 2011 ArtPrize International Juried Award | juror: Nuit Banai, art historian and critic, Department of Visual and Critical Studies at Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
curator: Paul Amenta | exhibition coordinator: Tom Clinton | special thanks: Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Michigan Natural Storage/Grand Rapids Gypsum Mine, Storming the Castle Pictures, James Balkon, Terry Frixen, James Morse, Jeffrey Muskovin, Amanda Opolski, Tom Wagner
When we drive, heat our homes, or cook, we burn oil, coal, or gas, fossils created by the decay of plants and animals 350 million years ago. A curiosity about minerals and fossils has long informed my work. While an art student in Kyoto, I collected them in abandoned mines, mountains, and rivers. They fascinated me for their beauty, but also for the perfect relationship between them and their matrixes—the solid matter in which a fossil or crystal is embedded. Taking them from matrixes was completely different from collecting stones on the beach or from a river bank. I needed tools to remove them from these rock masses. Seeing smoky crystals in a small hole at the corner of an enormous rock, they moved me; their holistic beauty seemed sacred, untouchable.
I thought I would take one crystal, which meant destroying innumerable small crystals. With each blow, they disappeared, transformed into white powder. The change was like the scattering of our ashes, a profound vanishing of beauty. My initial taboo evaporated. This ultimate material, powder and dust, which seemed eternally in the process of vanishing, became the singular material in my paintings, sculpture, and installations.
In Disappearances: An Eternal Journey I worked with fossil materials—400-million-year-old coral, the concrete floor of the exhibition space created from burnt limestone, gypsum formed by ancient lake and sea water—to create a landscape, an artistic ritual exploring a poetic reunion with nature, revealing the interconnectedness of all life. In their seemingly random encounters, I seek something beyond the accidental, the hidden. When we are conscious about the existence of these infinite connections, we emerge from our anthropocentric view of life and move into a holistic view. In doing so, we are freed from the limitations of death.