A farmhouse sits vacant in a field. Every window has been shattered, allowing the frigid winter air to swirl about the decrepit rooms. At one point, this house held within it a story that has since been forgotten. What was once a home is now long abandoned. It’s been left to decay alone in a cornfield. All that remains now is the whispers tucked away under rotted floor boards and between mold encrusted walls. Viewed as an eyesore, the house was demolished, taking with it a family’s distant memory.
I want to preserve something that was once beautiful and pay tribute to these places that will soon be gone. I find the things we choose to leave behind, fascinating. The plastic fragments of Christmas ornaments, or a moss- covered pair of shoes scattered in the woods, are the deserted remnants of a lifetime of memories.
There is a strange beauty within these places. It’s almost as if it’s luring you closer with a promise of something unknown. It longs to reveal its secrets, to keep the memories alive. When we inhabit a place, do our lives become intertwined with the structure? Do the walls, floors, and ceilings absorb our memories? It is the witness to our existence, weaving our stories into itself. As we inevitably move on, the place never forgets. As it slowly rots away, it holds onto our pasts even tighter.
My body of work largely focuses on retaining the memories, stories and places that have been forgotten in my home state, Pennsylvania. I work primarily with copper etchings and more traditional processes and tend to combine historical research with information passed down from my father and his memories of these places.
The copper etching Brian’s Childhood is a collection of childhood events that he has shared with me over the years. My work has evolved since then, and has exhibited more of my own personal connections, such as the copper etching Paradise Under I-83. I am also intrigued by the documented history behind these places. In my thesis research paper, Dancing on the Ashes: Centralia, PA, I use almost entirely historical facts to recount what happened over the past 70 years in the town.
The empty skeletons left standing after we’re gone are the only evidence of our existence. Whether it may be the shell of a home, a dilapidated factory, or old childrens’ toys left to rot in the woods- it is the ending to a story of which we will never know the beginning.