Thursday, May 30, 2013

Broken Barn Sculpture

     Jesseca suggested collecting things from the abandoned places I've been photographing.  After looking at Beverly Buchanan's Shack Works I got the idea of gathering material and constructing sculptures that make me think of the place.  This Broken Barn is my first attempt.  All the parts, except supporting frame & fastening (for construction integrity reason) have literally been cast off from the barn.  It's not complete yet; needs a proper base and details, but the idea is there.

     I have also learned some interesting facts about this farmstead's history.  The original settler on the site was twenty-two year old William Deering in 1770.  William was born in Scarborough, Maine.  He was raised primarily by his Indian fighter maternal grandfather, Charles Pine, after his parents died.  William left Scarborough for logging, cutting trees for the King's masts.  William built himself a puncheon bark structure that he lived in for three years while he cleared land at the farmstead.  Eventually neighbors helped him build a log cabin, on the site of the current farmstead structures, and in 1778 he married Sarah Rumery of Biddeford, Maine.
     It was William and Sarah's grandson, Isaac Newton Deering, born 1831, who built the structures I have been photographing  The old cabin was a joiner shop.  The shingled barn next to it was a carriage house, with storage for lumber on the second floor, and a blacksmith's shop in the back.  The large, now broken, barn stored corn in the second story and stabled horses in the long attached section where the roof is peeling away.  Isaac married Elmira Guptill of Limerick, Maine, in 1856, and they had seven children together, three boys and four girls.  Elmira taught children in a one room school house not far from the farm.  The golden years of the farmstead were during Isaac's industrious lifetime.  Isaac passed away in 1895.
    Isaac's fourth child, Abraham Lincoln Deering, took over the farm.  A. Lincoln sold milk to H. P. Hood, and harvested, stored, and sold ice.  He built a sawmill, and during World War I sold lumber for the construction of ships.  A. Lincoln's wife, Mary, also taught school in the one room schoolhouse, and they had two sons, Noel and Roger.  A. Lincoln was quite prosperous and became very wealthy.  The farm came to be called the Deering Royal Oaks Farm, because of it's history of selling lumber to the crown.  But the farm began to fail in 1930 when A. Lincoln's health began to fail.  He died four years later.
     A. Lincoln's son, Noel, became a lawyer, and moved to Boston.  His son Roger, who became an artist, stayed on the farm with his mother Mary until about 1940.  They were not successful farmers.  They had to keep selling off livestock to keep things running, and eventually they gave up farming and Mary and Roger moved to Portland.  They would return to the farmstead for the summer months until sometime in the mid-forties.  Here is where the written history ends, and my conjecture begins.
     Obviously, I have been spending a lot of time at the Deering Royal Oaks Farm, poking into places and scavenging pieces.  The boarded up house has boards loose in the back now, and I have discovered, much to my surprise, that the structure is gutted.  It's a testament to its original construction that is still is standing.  Also, there are burnt timbers falling off from the end of the barn closest to the house.  I have wondered how and when this barn obviously burned.  And I wondered what happened to the house.  But I think this is also why I was never attracted to photographing the house, for its guts, or heart, are gone.
     What I believe happened to this farmstead was the great fires of 1947.  That year there were many historical fires all over the state of Maine.  But the fire I am concerned about started in Newfield, Maine, on October 17, 1947.  For 180 days there had been no rainfall in Maine.  This fire spread and raged until finally extinguished on October 25th  Ninety percent of the towns of Shapleigh and Waterboro (where the Deering farm is) burned, a total of 20,00 acres.  I think the fires hit some of the farmstead structures, gutted the house, burned a portion of the barn, and ended the summer stays of Mary and Roger.  But I have not verified this.
     Roger Deering went on to be a successful landscape painter.  He moved to Ocean Avenue in Kennebunkport.   From 1945-1975 he was director of the Roger Deering Art Gallery and the School of Outdoor Painting in Kennebunkport Maine.  Roger Deering passed away in 1980. 

Burning Down the House

I thought I'd celebrate Memorial Day with a house burning.

Now the much longer exposure Pin-hole version.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Making Mistakes on Purpose

I liked my "mistakes" from last time so much I thought I'd try experimenting with the layering that occurs with pin-hole double exposures.  I am pleased with the results from my initial experimentation, so I think I will try to push this idea further.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mentor Meeting May 11th

     Jesseca agreed with Ben that I had been scratching at the surface of things.  But she also said I haven't just been scratching, I've been digging.  She said one part of me has been writing another part of me a letter, and by going back continually to the same place I've been forced to uncover the letter's meaning.  Last time I met with her she suggested me researching the family histories of the places I've been photographing.  Yesterday she said that was no longer necessary, because the history I've been researching is my own.  She said it's interesting that I am  looking at the fact that my family is broken, but I am also in a way fixing it.  She said in family situations we don't really have individual control, but in art we do.  She said I have been using art as a transformative method,  and I've been transforming myself as well.
     Jesseca said my pinhole images were really getting strong.  Last time I met with her I brought a few large pinhole prints, and she said next time she really wants to see some more images printed large.  She said I have created my own language with pinhole.  I told her that at the last residency, starting with Deb Davidson, I had heard a lot about the different languages spoken by my sculptures and photographs, so I have been thinking a lot about my visual language.  She said that's been a good thing to think about, because she feels I've "been launched".
     Jesseca particularly liked my "mistakes", like this one:
She said I should try to do more images like this on purpose.  I told her that I hadn't developed this one until a week ago, and since then I have been experimenting.  But I usually wait until a have a few dozen negatives before I develop them, so I'll have to wait and see how they turn out.  I said I also liked the accidental scratches on the negative in this image.  I have collected some rusty nails that I've pulled from salvaged siding from the barn and I have thought of purposely scratching the surface of my negatives with these nails.  Jesseca liked that idea.  She said this image in particular is getting at the heart of what I've been thinking about.
     Jesseca also loved my copper house and my idea of burning it and documenting it:
She said it's like 'trial by fire'.  It's funny she said that, because the next thing she said was that I am getting less literal in my sculpture.  She said I have to really think carefully about where I put my copper house when I burn it, so the resulting photographs of the event will mystify the viewer and take them into my world.  She also said I have to videotape the burning as well.  This sculpture is just        12 1/2" X 12 1/2" square by 16" tall, but Jesseca said she would love to see it really large, like a public work or something.  (Oh, and I saw Shellburne Thurber afterwards, and she told me she was very happy to see I had paid close attention to all my construction details in this sculpture, unlike my sculptures last fall.  I told her that her voice was in my head while I was constructing it, and I tried to slow down and make a proper finished product.)
     Jesseca said I need to think about how I'm going to present my work at the June residency.  She said I need to look hard at the juxtapositions, because my work is very much about order and disorder.  She paired these two images:
She said I didn't have to keep them together, but she said she it was interesting to look at how they speak to each other.  I never thought of looking at them this way, but it's true that they speak to one another on a few levels.
     So now it's back to work.  Like Shellburne said, "Oh, you have plenty of time to experiment before the June residency."  I meet with Jesseca for the last time on June 1st. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

More of the Same, for Definition's Sake

In thinking about what I want to bring to the next residency, beyond images of my sculptures, I obviously want to bring images of the structures I've been photographing.  But I want enough images to choose from so I can pick things that hopefully define a whole.  I am also constructing sculptures of the barn and the cabin from materials I've scavenged from them.  I think my copper house, whatever it becomes by June, will accompany my Waterboro House.  So here are more pinhole images of my same subjects: 

Waterboro House

Old Cabin



I think I like these "mistakes" the best.  I think I'm going to experiment with making "mistakes".

Copper House

I have built a copper house.  The reason I have built this house is so I may photograph a life-span, if you will.   I built the house out of copper so it may be burned, and yet exist in its new form after the fire.  I will stack birch logs inside the house, like a birch forest growing from within, and this will be the fuel that will burn.  I got the idea from my brother-in-law, who constructs sculptures to burn at the winter solstice, and he likes to use copper because it makes the flames turn different colors.  I constructed a house with walls you can look through.  This will give the fire plenty of air and visibility.  I also tried to give the house surface plenty of texture so that the pinhole camera would photograph it well.

And because I am so late on posting my copper house I also have pinhole camera images to post of it.

On World-Wide Pinhole Day (April 28th) I made a self-portrait.

This is an image for a special group-3 project called "Frockumenta".  Our group is supposed to all make a work symbolizing marriage, to celebrate one of our class-mate's upcoming nuptials.