This project began innocently enough, I was faced with a 250 lb. three-dimensional painting that I had done in oils on built-up particle board and plywood. The painting was one of my last in a “Corporate Icon” series that I had worked on from 1988 through 1992 and it was, frankly, gathering dust and became too cumbersome to keep moving. Margaret certainly didn’t want it on the wall—and I was not so sure that I could affix it securely enough anyway. So, given those circumstances, and a desire to do an installation on our property in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, I carted the heavy painting into the woods. I chose January 1, 1996 because it seemed like a good date to start a project—what better way to begin a year than to deposit a painting in the woods and watch it deteriorate over a five year period.
Over the course of the next five years I photographed the installation in all kinds of weather and in all seasons—usually once a month—at least the first year. As the years went on I photographed it less regularly but faithfully. We referred to it as that “art thing in the woods.” Our non-artists friends just looked at me funny and smiled if I took them to see it. Come to think of it, our artist friends looked at me funny too.
Oh well, it was a grand experiment, but with none of the finesse of an Andy Goldsworthy installation. (I only learned about Andy in the year 2001—by then my installation was almost completely transformed)
The symbolism of the degradation is obvious—all things decay, dust to dust, aging, etc. But somehow, it seemed like there was a positive message in this as well, which is why I called it “Transformation” rather than “Degradation”. The almost dignified manner of the gradual transition, the stoicism, facing the elements—weather of all types, nibbling animals, and woods wanderers. And through it all, quietly facing it’s fate, hanging on to it’s color and shape up until the end.
A fitting model for any of us. I hope I can face my fate with an equally brave disposition.