Anthracite Coal, Manufactured Pittsburgh Clay, Casting Slip, Charcoal, Erasers, Performer. 2018.
Performed live in 1-5 hour increments during the NCECA 2018 conference in Pittsburgh. This piece was part of the Structures of Atmosphere exhibition at 7800 Susquehanna organized by Joe Page, featuring Joe Page, Ben Demott, Shawn Murray, Kate Roberts and Bailey Arend.
From raw anthracite coal and industrially produced clay, the memory of Pittsburgh’s geologic foundation is unearthed, re-drawn and transformed. The Pittsburgh Coal Seam powered the metal smelting and steel industries of ‘The Smoky City’ including the Westinghouse company, which built the building at 7800 Susquehanna. We are living in an era where carbon sequestration is more desired than smoking chimneys. Sequestration Drawing imagines a ritual for returning this coal to the earth.
One-by-one, I draw each piece of coal onto a square of locally produced clay, then dip the coal in white slip and break the dry clay into a shard pile. I then return the slip-coated coal to the place where the clay square had been. Through this process, I am inscribing the likeness of coal onto the earth, which once surrounded it. The repetition of this gesture mirrors the monotony of industrial production, but by breaking each drawing, the labor is aimed toward ephemeral observation, sensitivity and measurement, not commerce. As the initial stock of coal is depleted, the shard pile of drawings grows. This is a ritual of learning the lines of coal and envisioning its return to a sequestered state; a ritual drawing which creates cross currents of transformation; a ritual for this time and place.
This project is funded as a cooperative venture of Alleghany Arts Council, Ashe County Arts Council, Watauga County Arts Council and Wilkes Art Gallery with Support from a Regional Artist Project Grant of the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.