This developing body of work draws attention to the utilities and urban planning that run the city—the American city generally, and Portland specifically. The recognizability of the designs in my work generates more recognition of the urban systems they represent. I have experimented with various techniques, such as the monoprints in tea in the Rose Compass piece. I have found rubbings--a technique Max Ernst described as “automatic”--most suited to my utilitarian subject.
Rubbings are most associated with the centuries-old tradition of tombstone rubbings, a simple means of documentation. My work relates to this tradition in that I collect rubbings from fixed public sites. But it diverges from this tradition’s intent of preservation. There is not much reason to preserve the relief of a signal cover. But there is reason, I’m finding, to notice a signal cover.
I manipulate the rubbings through collage and other forms of combination. This allows me to not only point out what I’ve noticed, but to impart what that has led me to consider. Crest salutes our ease of access to water, for instance, through water utility rubbings arranged not unlike a coat of arms. Black Hole offers a trompe l’oeil-like view of a partially removed manhole cover. The black hole beneath begs the question, What’s down there? If you’re like me, you may realize you don’t really know. But that leaves us more aware, and perhaps more appreciative, of our environment, the city.