Dredging The Lethe, 2018
“Dredging The Lethe” was a large-scale drawing occupying the public space in the 3rd Floor North of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, part of the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s “Art in Public Spaces” project in the spring of 2018.
Wrapped around the interior wall of a smokestack of the former munitions factory, the mural addressed the intent of the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s original initiative to “beat swords into plowshares,” using recycled book-pages, collage, charcoal, gesso and ink to create large-scale drawings of Greek goddesses amid contemporary human events. At twelve feet high and 26 feet in circumference, the mural’s circular composition allowed for an unique viewing experience.
The The south side of the mural depicts Clio, Muse of History, riding a black swan, above the scene, recording the history of human activity.
The north side depicts Memnosyne, Titan Goddess of Memory, as she submerges travelers to the Underworld in the River Lethe, to unburden them of their past experiences, with the understanding that they may begin life anew only when their memories are laid to rest.
Her daughter, Clio, the Muse of History, meanwhile, has persuaded a group of hazmat-suited Historians that they might find the source of all human history by traveling to the Underworld to mine the River Lethe in order to collect the memories of all the dead who have journeyed there throughout time. The Historians must take precautions to avoid the soporific nature of the mythic waters, lest they become forgetful themselves, as they attempt to collect and decipher of all the information which they gather and transmit to the their ethereal data center – known as “The Cloud”.
Desperate for their stories to be remembered, people clamor to be heard above the waters, as hazmat-clad the Historians dredge the depths of the Lethe for those forgotten.
Clio surveys the scene from the back of her Black Swan, observing a satellite beaming the Historians’ information to “The Cloud”, as children wade through the forgetful waters.
The World submerged in the forgetful waters; com tower beaming history to “The Cloud.”
The scenes depict the tension between what our society chooses to remember, and what we choose to forget; whose stories are told and amplified, recorded and shelved, or simply left to dissipate in the currents of time.
I made this mural on site, over the course of three weeks. It was on display from April through August of 2018.
The mural itself is constructed of hundreds of pages of discarded books glued to rolls of brown paper, attached to the historic structure using a large packing strap. No nails, screws, or adhesives were allowed in the hanging of the drawing. Assistants were necessary in the elevation and hanging of the drawing, but the drawing surfaces and images were assembled and created by the artist.
Here are a few photos of the installation process:
Women’s History Mural, 2018
Mural created for Women’s History Month, February of 2018, Studio 306, Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, VA.
This mural was constructed on site over the course of two weeks in honor of Women’s History Month, 2018. The writing in white at the top is the full text of the Equal Rights Amendment.