Developing Hanging Garden, I was also drawn to the church debris—pieces of fallen plaster and paint fragments melded with age old dust. The debris reminded me of the hundreds of ruins I saw in Italy. They presented an extreme and insistent form of reconciliation between humanity and nature. There’s a beauty in how things crack. You can see nature’s power. It’s like looking at a bolt of lightening. There is the patina of time, an appreciation that can be traced to the tea masters of Japan, and wabi-sabi, beauty in imperfection. I was also reminded of the Japanese tradition of Suiseki, viewing stones discovered in nature and collected for their beauty. Once in Japan a castle was traded for such a stone.
The history of the site also provided inspiration. The location for the Holy Cross Church and Monastery was originally occupied by the Cincinnati Observatory. The site had long been a place where humanity could connect with the heavens, first through astronomy, and later through religious belief. The current building was built by Passionist priests in 1895. The wall plaster fragments reminded me of a kind of sedimentary rock. Collecting debris, I began to see landscapes in these “stones.” With the exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center, I made that landscape visible. Inspired also by traces, shadows of the church’s missing Stations of the Cross, I installed Pentimenti along a long gallery wall, creating linear constellations of gilded pieces and their reflections that lead to Disappearances, a powder and dust installation. Disappearances’ main element was created with pulverized plaster and other white mineral dust and powders. If one grinds anything long enough, it becomes white. I see powder and dust as the ultimate material, that which is eternally in the process of vanishing. In this cosmogonical field, I performed an event, creating a landscape. The installation suggests both infinity and limitation, revealing the precarious beauty of our existence.