Current Project: Monument
When I set out to photograph the objects placed along the North side of I-80 between Knolls and Wendover, I assumed I would be documenting roadside memorials to those who lost their lives along this bleak stretch of highway. While I did find a few such memorials, I also had to re-conceptualize the project at my very first stop. Walking a way off the road I dropped my bag onto the soft salty mud in front of a large green cross made from pressure treated 2 X 4s and decorated with the curtains from a farmhouse kitchen, and a Rosary draped over the upright. While this could have been a memorial it struck me as something more. A work of semi-public art designed to take advantage of the unique characteristics of this stretch of desert.
For many miles the desert floor consists of brutally flat clay and salt. Its horizontality is so absolute, and so compelling that any object placed on this plane creates a vertical element that becomes its own organizing principle; drawing the eye and ordering space in a way similar to that described in Wallace Stevens’ poem I Placed a Jar in Tennessee. Although the objects depicted in this series appear to have different purposes, the thing they all share, the thing that can’t be escaped, is the way they push against the desert floor and use it as a ground and backdrop in a way that gives them monumental character.