This month we welcome Rachel Singel and Brendan Fitzgerald to the Shuckster space!
I look up. The sun is rising, the colors of the clouds are changing with each passing moment. I look down at the ground. The fallen branches press tightly to the cement, like fossils. I think about them both: something moving and something frozen. They face each other, a fleeting moment and one waiting to be eternalized. I am interested in this relationship between what exists before me for an instant, and what might last.
I used to go out into the woods and look for voids in trees and in the riverbanks. I was drawn in by circles that seemed too perfect to exist, and would stare into them, wondering what might be inside. I think about Georgia O'Keeffe's work, and how she once said: "When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else." I also remember the words of Paul Klee: "An artist does not reproduce what he sees, he makes us see." I want to focus in on a single object or moment and spend time adding detail to that drawing, all the while remembering the encounter. In the end, all I want is to share that moment.
I make etchings on handmade paper and bind their remnants into artist's books. I enjoy the relationship between these processes and how they intertwine. Andy Goldsworthy, another artist I look to, invests immense patience and time to realizing his vision. While there are setbacks along the way, he moves forward and finds a way to compromise with his materials and celebrate a subtle and ephemeral instant. This is also my hope.
Picher, Oklahoma, is one of America's most toxic towns. Miners built the town in 1918, and extracted more than $20 billion in lead and zinc - much of it used to create the bullets fired in the first and second World Wars. By 1967, Picher's mines had closed. However, mining left hollow tunnels beneath the town's surface and toxic residue piled high above. A 1993 study found that one in every three Picher children had enough lead in his or her blood to damage his brain or nerves. In 2006, engineers found that more than 80 percent of the town's buildings, including the high school, were in danger of collapse.
The country's once-vital mining site is now, essentially, a ghost town. The 2010 census counted 20 Picher residentsl reports from last year counted only six homes and a pharmacy in the town.
Using images sourced through Google Maps' "Street View" function, these doorways offer glimpses at a disintegrating community from the perspectives of those residents that stayed behind. They allow ground-level access without crossing the town's toxic threshold.
To view: Pick a door, hold it towards a light, and look through the peephole.
Brendan Fitzgerald lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he works as news editor at C-VILLE Weekly. His reporting has been cited by multiple news sources, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and highlighted by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. He also runs the FitzHerald-Tribune, and lives in the Shuckster house. This is his first exhibit.
More pictures to come!