Sara Alsum-WassenaarVisiting Assistant Professor of Art and Design
My artwork develops alternative modes of occupying spaces at the junction of the built
and natural environment. It facilitates a relationship between the handmade and the
land. I utilize traditional craft methods including metalworking, pottery, woodworking
and sewing-processes that can be produced on an individual level. I also utilize New
Media methods of distribution. These contemporary and ageless materials are used for
material investigation of the formed environment, and thus explore the relationship
between the body and the land. The way we inhabit space is defined by the objects
with which we surround ourselves.
Objects are designed, made or hybridized on an individual scale in response to specific land-use requirements. My work explores basic human needs and fulfills them within a regional environment through a process of labor. I invite people to work, and through the process of foraging and object-making, relationships are revealed between bodies and land.
During a Walkshop in Champaign, Illinois, in March of 2013, participants were invited to traverse near various forms of infrastructure and have a picnic on the green space of a grown-over train bed. We carried ceramic vessels of food nestled in portable sacks as we passed through train yards, under highways, through post-industrial yards and along downtown sidewalks. The groups’ discussions were steered towards people’s historical knowledge of the spaces we walked through and personal experiences with the structures we encountered. The porcelain containers that held the meal had been created through a process of forming clay over pipes, storm water drains, parts of old bridges, train tracks and fire hydrants — utility objects, the unnoticed urban debris.
Humans have cultivated land in a variety of ways for their own of purposes. To cultivate is to claim ownership, yet can we ever truly own any land? To cultivate is to design for hegemonic human purpose. Flora and fauna will find their way back to the spaces where we eradicate it, but we may not find our way back from the mentality used to eradicate it.
Time--Form--Spin, 2015, 1080 Video, Film
Time--Form--Line, 2017, 1080 Video, Film