While the last posts here on this blog have displayed groups of sweaters, sometimes it seemed most beneficial to have a lot of sweaters to provide greater visual impact. This placement is case in point. At the northwest corner of Scottsdale Road and Pinnacle Peak Road, a dozen signs exist for various developments in the area for new homes with grandiose amenities or lifestyles. I pass this corner on a regular basis and couldn’t resist the urge to place a collection here to contrast the purpose of the advertisement. While on one hand, the viewer might think the sweaters are a gimmick for the housing development, the intention is quite the opposite. Also, in this neighborhood of homes where the average cost of a house is around the low $500’s and up, I wanted to promote an organization such as NCH whose mission is to educate the public on the various dilemmas people face when they struggle for shelter. We’ll see how long the sweaters remain there. Many people I am sure will just drive by and not even think to stop to pick one up (unless you follow the blog of course).
Category Archives: Subversive
Getting closer to the holidays and in need of that special sweater? Look no further than your local Goodwill store. It was my daughter’s idea to place one there saying that’s where people go if they need clothes. So, in support for her great idea and a wonderful way to enhance a holiday display, we posted this sweater on the rack at the Goodwill off of Ashville Highway in Spartanburg SC. Of course both of us wondered if someone would eventually have to pay for it as it was unmarked, but even so, at least the proceeds would still benefit a good cause.
The times are a changing, as the Bob Dylan song goes, and along with it a revolution of the middle class. Occupy Wall Street is now a national movement and it is great to see how collective action can best be represented through visual monuments such as this. Just down the street from the park where protesters have made themselves at home, was this amazing moving van. On so many levels, this just seemed the apropos location for a sweater. The moving van in itself is a great metaphor for the current state of our housing crisis that still is stalled by banks unwilling to mortgage down liens that could be paid by hardworking individuals. The amazing art work adorning the van just proves that art has a place in the public sphere and can also serve to motivate people to action. And, finally, the location of the sweater on the gas tank is definitely intentional as it comments not only on the environmental impact we have on this earth, but also the cost of such commodities and how they influence our spending habits, if in fact you happen to be one of the lucky blokes working for the standard middle class wages that pale in comparison to executive pay of the top CEO’s in our country. Kudos to the artist who painted this work of art!
I guess I can now boast that I had work in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but believe me the intention of placing the sweater where I did reflects more upon challenging the art world economy than to become a part of the hierarchical nature of exhibition, recognition and monetary cycle of art production. Earlier in the day, a presenter at the conference I attended compared visits to specialized museums including the National Museum of Women and the Arts, National Museum of American Indian, National Museum of African Art, American Visionary Art Museum and the National Museum of Art. He posed a question to one of the docents at the National Museum of Art asking if there were any works of art completed by women in the museum. The docent, who was an older white gentleman, answered that he didn’t know and told the presenter to just check the label stating the name of the artist. Then, the gentleman reflected and answered that he thought that there might be some paintings by Alfred Stieglitz’s wife in one of the galleries, but he wasn’t sure. As an artist who is a woman, and one who looks back on those who have made my path easier as a practicing artist, I was shocked and appalled. In my bubble, we are all equal. And as I was walking towards the entrance of MoMa, with the crowds going around the city block to view an iconic male artist from the 50’s and 60’s, I physically revolted, becoming nauseous as I approached. I had a free entrance into the museum and a great opportunity to view some of the artists whom I have come to admire, both men and women, but on that night, I couldn’t stomach the Wal-Mart effect of mob adoration of one who has been deemed worthy by the art world. So, in homage to Mierle Laderman Ukeles who mopped the floor on her hands and knees of various art institutions, I placed a sweater on the floor. And, it is no coincidence that the text from the museum table soliciting membership is in the background. To me, it reads that only some people belong, and obviously we know who those are and it isn’t us.
The iconic imagery of the teepee symbolizes the American mystique of western settlers. The path of Interstate 80 follows the route of Lewis and Clark and those traveling to reach better destinations from which they came. At the stop here, I couldn’t resist placing this sweater to highlight the highly identifiable symbol of shelter that floods our imagination when we think of the American Indian. Adjacent to this teepee construction was a caboose, a war tank, and the covered wagon. All symbols of iconic western settlement and three of them symbolizing the power of larger organized governmental forces. The sweater here seems to read as the power of the individual, one that can influence decisions of the larger governmental structure that affects all who reside on this land.
Along a busy path of shoppers and errand runners, this sweater was placed in a prominent location underneath the viaduct for the mass transit system in the Evanston area. The entire area was flooded with these sweaters during the day as I meandered one place after another looking for interesting destinations for these items. Hopefully they found a home prior to the the torrential rain storms that followed a couple of days later! One of the most exciting things of an urban environment is the layered colors, textures and marks found on walls, posts, sidewalks, and homes. This surface layering is the visual history of a place that accrues over a period of time and not only blends into the background but comprises its identification. Unfortunately, it is easy for many things to fade into the background including human welfare issues that face many individuals. By placing a physical marker, or identifier, this project aims to highlight some of these concerns of inequality facing individuals without proper shelter.
In addition to the previous sweater, this sweater was also placed in Old Town Scottsdale along the art walk path. The situated placement on a fire hydrant seems extremely appealing as the sweater happened to be placed outside of a prominent art gallery that shows work by artists from both LA and New York. As a prominent emblem of the capitalist foundation of the art market, placing this sweater here acts as a symbol in direct opposition to this system that we have created to view, appreciate and consume art. The fire hydrant just seems very fitting as it is a public safety mechanism, similar to the notion that art doesn’t have to be consumed or a part of a market driven system to have meaning, impact and value.
Well, sometimes it can be very difficult to find the courage to place a sweater in a specific location. For sweater #198, this was especially so as I placed it on a small area of trible land that is adjacent to my apartment complex. Every day I travel down this road on my way to work and every day I am absolutely amazed at the stark difference between the area I live in and the area of this landscape. Homes of all types and materials dot the landscape which contrast sharply to the cookie-cutter construction of the home-owner association haven in which I am submerged. This area that the Yaqui tribe resides is full of cultural identifiers and resources. And while both communities struggle with poverty or home ownership conundrums, the Yaqui tribe is at least not inhibited in displaying these issues in the open. Murals adorn many sides of public and private buildings as seen in one of the images here. Community members are often seen on the side of the street talking and being a part of a larger cultural fabric rather than sheltered by their own little walled units as can be witnessed in more traditional settings. Studies have been done on how different social structures interact with each other, and I am afraid to say especially as a white girl, that the white folks in middle to upper class social groups do not interact with each other in the same social manner that other cultural groups do within their communities. White folks need a reason to get together–something organized, structured, purposeful. Other cultural groups seem to not have a problem with just hanging out and chewing the fat. As April 1 is Ceaser Chavez day in honor of his birth and work in equalizing rights among workers, I wanted to place this sweater at a Ceaser Chavez park within the Yaqui community. When I went to place the sweater, a local gentleman came by and began telling me with very little prompting, the history of this specific spot. It turned out that this plot of land was the former site of a local bank who for many years took in residents’ savings accounts until one day about 30 years ago when the owner took the bank money and absconded with it. The community retaliated by tearing down the bank and building this Ceaser Chavez Memorial Park. Unfortunately, it seems the park has not been in good repair lately and now remains more of an urban artifact. But, it still stands as a testament of individuals gathering as a group for empowerment as can be seen here in these images.
Terri contributed this sweater and found that it was an ideal place for people’s attention. While taking her ailing pet to the vet, I am sure Terri was thinking about the care that is extended to pets and how many people who have no health insurance would struggle to provide adequate pet care as well. In a state that just took away over 50 years of work in providing workers equal rights and fair pay, I can only imagine that it will only get more difficult to provide for our needs as well as our pets needs in the coming future. Yes, I’m on a soap box, and I don’t care. When are we going to wake up to the fact that balancing budgets can’t be done on the straw backs of the workers? Is it just me, or are we reverting to medieval times of taxation without representation? If you aren’t in touch with your representatives yet, now is the time to speak out, before our voice disappears.
I went to the state capital to place this sweater and found this bench that was constructed as a memorial for battered and abused mothers. The bench was in front of the House of Representatives and I thought this an apropos site for placement as many abused women also deal with homelessness or stable living conditions. On the opposing corner, a group of protesters were congregating and getting signatures from people regarding immigration conditions in the state of Arizona. Especially after last week when immigration protester, Salvador Reza, was kicked out of the senate for raising concerns about the latest immigration bills up for vote on in the senate, it seemed like an ideal placement to bring attention to the needs of everyone, including the immigrant population. Unfortunately, democracy took a turn for the worse when Salvador Reza was then banned from entering the senate building on Thursday as majority leader, Russell Pearce, had him “black listed” from the senate grounds. Continued displacement of individuals who seek employment, health care or housing are in dire need across the country, including many immigrant populations which tend to make up some of the susceptible populations for losing services due to state and federal budget shortfalls. Maybe someone who sits on this bench will think twice about the power that the few in the opposing buildings have and their effect on the majority who never visit.