A ten foot long, five foot tall mural is going to pop up on the Somerville Community Path for Art Beat. All of the materials for this project were either given to me, recovered after being discarded, or have served some other purpose before this. The theme involves air quality, health, chemicals that are classified as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). In this context, organic simply means carbon based. Some man-made chemicals which are used to produce or mask what humans smell in products contain POPs, and other toxic chemicals, yet they remain undisclosed and largely unregulated especially in household cleaners, laundry soaps and cosmetics.
Many people, including myself, love certain fragrances. They are an important part of human sexuality, cultural and personal identity and so much more. But I am leaving that part to the social scientists. For years I wished that I could find a simple, non-threatening way to ask people to understand all the good reasons there are to think about the effects of fragranced products before we buy them. It took hours of reading to find even the most basic science and industry facts for this project. This is my first attempt to open what can be a difficult conversation.
I am a re-emerging artist. I have a conviction to use almost exclusively recovered and reclaimed materials to make art. I have skills in many mediums but identify primarily as a sculptor. Every day in Somerville I am struck by the sheer volume (Metric Tons!) of discarded but usable things appearing at thrift store docks, on the streets, in trash barrels and in dumpsters. For decades most of my life's energy has been applied to strengthening resilience and building skills to secure a sustaining income. I have often experienced a scarcity of resources. With the exception of a few brief periods, my art-making practice was tentative and private. Now nearing retirement age, I am surrounded by an abundance of personal support, resources, and opportunities to thrive in every aspect of my life. I became a studio member of the Artisan's Asylum maker space 2016. That ever-changing community has been a wellspring of technical training, scrap and surplus materials, free consultations, employment opportunities, validation, vindication and inspiration. I am a late bloomer, and it's my time to pop!