Excavations is comprised of still photographs, videos, songs and ambient sound recordings. The photographs are displayed in three grids: Early Winter, Thaw, and Spring. These grids resemble archaeological dig sites. Square by square, I uncover items that reveal family stories and other histories contained in the earth. Most images include arrowheads I inherited from my grandfather, an environmentalist. I use the arrowheads and other natural materials to create small, ephemeral earthwork installations that express an artistic principle or element. The images and field notes act as a map that take viewers on a journey to find my grandmother’s stolen fur coats. This journey also traces my grief, the history of tribes from the midwest, and my own search as an artist working in the dirt. The entire project mirrors the archaeological process, where I select a site to dig, excavate, and interpret the objects and information I’ve found.
Rebecca Solnit writes that typical genealogical records perform an erasure of women in an effort to maintain “patrilineal coherence.” Solnit calls the disappeared women on our family tree our “grandmothers.” Fittingly, I was inspired to start this project after the death of my grandmother and my grandfather's dementia. I found it curious too that some relatives are described as ‘black sheep' if they took non-normative, even more artistic paths in their life. My journey retracing my family history parallels the journey of the typical fairy tale princess. Snow White must run from her given family, an evil stepmother in her life through her father’s marriage. On the run, Snow White discovers another family in the woods. As a fairy tale princess, she experiences her most significant moments, realizations and confrontations while in the woods.