'Narrowed Plot' features seven paintings from my new series entitled ‘Firth,’ that examines a single North Philadelphia lot over time. The large-scale works on paper are low-key ink paintings that show a shifting urban landscape, reflecting the multilayered history of my city block. They are saturated paintings that take a while to adjust for detail; they are carefully observed but loosely captured.
The series began with a study of a lone tree snag intertwined with a chain link fence on an unmaintained plot of land, just three doors down from my studio. As the project grew to encompass the living ecosystem of the site as it changed throughout the season, a new process was set in motion. The unused land changed hands and construction began to transform the space into a series of row homes. Over the course of two years’ research, I’ve followed this process of gentrification in a singular case, documenting the visual changes and researching the history of this particular plot of land.
The site is specific, but the forces at work — environmental and social displacement, radical changes in land use, and the re-branding of neighborhoods — are as familiar in Arlington as they are in Philadelphia. The tableaus question ideas (and ideals) of development and coexistence. When viewed from the timeframe of the trees that once inhabited the land, the cycles of neglect and renewal reflect the history of the neighborhood. Before existing as the fallow site of urban, natural refuge that I first witnessed, the lot was a site of nineteenth century industry - home to a bedding factory, casket hardware manufacturer, water distributor and warehouse. The additions and erasures of human impact form the palimpsest of this living city; my time here representing a small point along its trajectory.
For the exhibition ‘Narrowed Plot,’ I am also creating a site-specific installation to activate the Tiffany windows in the gallery. A trio of hand-painted ink on mylar screens will cover and temporarily alter the historical windows. The piece, entitled 'Variable Transmittance', features vertical grids of color, inspired by the hues of the glass but compositionally derived from the constellation of stickers adhering to the unfinished windows at the ‘Firth’ construction site. It highlights the Tiffany windows’ history of displacement and mixed use, their funerary connotations, while diffusing the inherent, reflective beauty of their continued presence.