This winter is full of reasons to go south, and to the hills. Last week found me in Charleston, West Virginia, working with long-time friends on an exhibition called Predictions. Memory, and the fluidity between past and future, was a big part of the curatorial statement written by Jenny Hudson and Craig Mason. For many of my installations lately it's been important to use local materials. There's nothing more site-specific, or site-relevant, than earth dug up from near the gallery. West Virginia, though, has even more going for it in the lumps of coal that tumble from freight trains throughout the state. More than dirt, and more than the glitter I've enjoyed working with so much, coal is gorgeous and awful all at once. More sparkle than I would have imagined, and I turned into something of a hypochondriac while using it, thinking the worst every time I coughed.
The piece was an evolution of earlier work, that really fit the show's theme of overlapping pasts and futures. Re futures, a bucket of coal made the trip home with me--I think it'll be interesting to use it in Chicago where it will be viewed more for its aesthetic qualities and not quite so politically charged.