Rooting Chicago


Project Statement

I lived next to two houses in foreclosure. One had been empty for 3 years and was completely overgrown with trees, grasses and shrubs. The other had just recently been vacated, and the remnants of the family that had lived there— a swing set, a tricycle, a playhouse, chairs and a table— sit untouched as reminders of the family’s absence, and their hurried departure.

I harvested the overgrowth of plant materials from the one empty lot to dye cloth, coloring the fabric from the surfeit of vegetation that arises when a property is abandoned by bank and family alike. Patchwork Pall is a swing set cover, one side made from old moving blankets, a quilt, and a tarp found in one of the garages; and the fabric of the other side is dyed from the dyestuff found in the overgrown lot. 

It is easy to see what happens to an abandoned property, but much harder to see the rupture to the community.  Our foreclosed neighbors were friends; our children played together. I am scavenging color and abandoned objects to reflect on the spaces left in our neighbors’ absence, and to address the damage to the metaphorical fabric of the community by reintegrating these elements into a literal fabric.

Patterns found in classic American quilts have a language that I am adopting for this large scale cover. The main pattern, called “roof tops,” is a repetition of squares using contrasting colors to emphasize the radiating geometry as if looking at houses from above. On the sides of the cover is a pattern called “flying geese.”

Exhibition Details:

Rooting: Regional Networks, Global Concerns

Creative responses to the extreme environmental, social, and economic changes facing our communities are urgently needed today. The artists in Rooting take up this challenge, addressing issues of soil health, water conservation, food production and distribution, and building sustainable communities.

The works in the exhibition include projects that attempt to untangle the complexity of the food industry and government policy. Others employ material explorations of charged environmental sites and eco-systems, and present documentation of metaphoric and symbolic actions that reimagine our future. Collectively, the projects included in Rooting present a bounty of responses to current pressing environmental and social challenges.