Last month, I was asked to participate in international project and competition by Smart Urban Stage. They asked me to join in their “Future of the City” project, “a global online project asking pioneers from metropolises around the world to question the urban status quo.”
I was asked by Berlin-based designer Mario Lombardo to answer, using my work, ‘What should the surface of the city look like?’
Only using my work to answer a question really perplexed me. Most often, the focus of my work is as a human animal in the city looking to the natural environment, looking out away from the metropolis and exploring the longing to disappear back into the woods. This seems to haunt many cusp-dwellers in Seattle…we look towards the mountains, towards the woods, and towards the sea. I decided to treat the city as that view point I’m often looking into.
And I decided to let go of the “should” in the question….I don’t know what the city ‘should’ look like. All too often, I am a little repelled by the clean, sparkling, slick urban planning designs of what a city ‘should’ look like. They seem to leave little room for the petri dishes of creativity that bloom and flourish underground in cities, where people create expansive visions of their lives out of the detritus left over from the urban scene. I decided to go looking around in my city for these views of flux and creativity that bloom up out of things that are decaying, or recycling, or rebirthing.
I live in close proximity to many of the sites that trash and recycling from my city goes to as it heads to different processing points….this is part of the city too. Places full of texture and life, and work and movement forward….I find this underside more interesting than the surface. I’m drawn to the pockets and secret places that keeps the city moving, breathing and creating! I packed my car full of crocheting, pom poms, headdresses, capes (all made of pile and pile of ground up discarded clothes) and my husband, my son and my camera, and we went to play and explore in some of these places.
The texture, the surface of the city ‘should’ always be one of overlapping histories preserved and renewed, fertile grounds for creative growth (not just economic growth), layers of time observed, hidden places for individuals to make space for themselves on their own terms, creative renewal only possible in reclaiming what is in the flux of decay. Once we returned home from the adventures, combing through the images, I began to see patterns and archetypes, much like I do when I am turning my gaze to the natural environment; images of the of mythic cycles, of the temple, the shaman, the recluse, the compass and the future.
All 8 artists who answered the question “What should the surface of a city look like?” are now up for the textile competition, and then whomever wins will be a part of another vote in January where the grand prize winner get some cash!
Please take a look at my work and vote here! Voting end Friday Dec. 16th…