As someone who has relied solely on public transportation for most of my adult life, it has always been necessary that I adapt my art practice to this material circumstance. I spend a great deal of time on bus benches, walking, negotiating layovers and —for better or worse, encountering some dynamic personalities. Union Station has become a nucleus for my travels throughout the city as my migrations always intersect at this middle territory. I can often be found sitting in a leather chair in the big airy waiting room, looking over notes, reading, observing the space, or making drawings. Working in these spaces provides valuable information that inevitably emerges in my work as the residue of hours spent in close quarters with strangers. I have always valued that these kinds of public spaces provide a simultaneous intimacy and anonymity, illuminating the subtle poetics of the daily-lived life in its most beautiful and brutal forms. Union Station offers a rare geographical moment when multiple and often contradictory ways of being intersect as people with complex identities and varying degrees of privilege and marginalization move through the space toward a similar goal: to get to or to go from.
Transit spaces are unique in that they hold tremendous potential for human connections but are often taken for granted as a space you simply pass through on your way to where you are “really going”, like the space between paragraphs on a page or the time spent in an elevator. I began to think about what this meant for my art practice as I tallied the amount of time spent in these places, doing the work of making art and interacting with people however without validating it as a legitimate “art space”. I began to wonder what if the artist and their practice were constantly in transit, operating through the lens of a migratory praxis, responding to, influencing, and being influenced by the many spaces it occupied? It wasn’t until I decided to abandon the fictional border between my art practice and the activities required to carry out my daily life (like using public transit) that I understood that the act of making and the act of living were absolutely inextricable. Further, it became clear that literally integrating public space with my art practice could provide an extraordinary opportunity to develop a multi-faceted approach which attempts to bridge the perceived conflicts between “public art”, “the white cube”, and the very private compulsion to make.
Union Station has become my second studio space where a wide range of mixed media works are conceived of, created, and installed throughout the grounds of the station. Often these are works that might typically be made in one’s private studio or thought of as quiet, intimate ways of making as they involve handheld or tactile acts that remain close to the body like sewing, quilting, extracting text from books, or carefully altering found imagery. Elements of misplacement and anomaly are activated as familiar objects like chairs, musical instruments, newspapers, and laundry lines are inserted into unlikely spaces or transformed into new, interactive forms whose function deviates completely from the original. The curiosity sparked by these actions works to tear down social barriers and incite conversations with people, the content of which informs audio, video, and performance pieces as well as a growing archive of ephemeral human interactions. Each work takes on its own migration story with a unique relationship to assimilation as they move within and without the expectations of specific spaces, audiences, and their distinct cultures and political structures.
Accessibility as a principle is positioned at the core of this work through the use of familiar and affordable materials, a transparency of process, and direct engagement with viewers. And it is through this accessibility that the process of making and viewing becomes a dynamic political situation, charged with the tension and freedom of unpredictable environments while remaining in conversation with contemporary art. With the artist working alongside viewers, a seemingly arbitrary space transforms into a place of liberatory learning in which we can enter into a critical questioning of the dichotomy between marginalized and dominant narratives, the process of individual and collective identity making, and the role that art must play in creating an equitable, compassionate culture.