Recording the sound of Nine Mile Run at Hunter Park

I am a project-based artist who launches large-scale public projects that are platforms for intimate interaction. My work exists at the intersections where social practice, sculpture, installation, and performance meet. I call it a conceptual, site responsive, research-based practice. I think of art as part of our environments, in direct conversation with the so-called natural and built environments we inhabit. There are no neutral spaces where one can construct and situate a sculpture—every location, form, and material is layered with meaning. Thus, my conceptual art practice is grounded in histories, folk traditions and critical inquiry.

For the past ten years, I have lived and worked around Pittsburgh, teaching and learning from the cultural contexts of this region, ranging from the relationship of the steel industry to environmental racism and food justice. I am an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University—teaching Contextual Practice, Radical Empathy in Architecture, Transdisciplinary Research Studio, and other courses; as well as working in urban agriculture and leading community-based workshops and walks. Through my site-responsive practice, I strive to create work that asks questions about our surroundings, our resources, and how we might coexist. 

In my early 20s-30s , I worked primarily collaboratively and created collective structures with my peers. This is still a practice I engage in. In 2000, living in Philadelphia, I co-founded project MOBILIVRE-BOOKMOBILE project, a touring exhibit of artist books and zines housed in a vintage trailer, custom-designed with bookshelves and seating for visitors. The project brought together self-published artist publications, creating a new context to highlight the means of production and share it with a wider audience. The Bookmobile toured the US and Canada for five years with a new collection of curated bookworks each year, to venues including the Mattress Factory, PS1 in New York, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and countless bookstores, universities, and libraries. The collections are now housed at the Artexte Information Centre archive and research facility in Montreal.

In 2001, I co-founded the queer and feminist art journal LTTR which led to a five year collaboration with my co-editors (K8 Hardy, Every Ocean Hughes, Ulrike Müller, and Lanka Tattersall) as well as a myriad of contributors with whom I had many informal mentorships with. This was my experiential research in Live Queer Arts. During this time, I went through the Whitney Independent Study Program, anchoring my writing, publishing, and studio practices in theoretical grounding. I/We navigated working relationships to produce events and exhibitions with historical downtown New York art spaces (Artists Space, Art In General, The Kitchen, Printed Matter, and later PS1). 

Currently, I’m working with my neighbors Edith Abeyta, Fitzhugh Shaw, Dana Bishop-Root, and many other community members to activate a storefront space we call General Sisters. General Sisters is located in North Braddock, Pennsylvania, uphill from US Steel’s Edgar Thomson Works. A healing garden wraps around the brick building and a hand painted sign board is posted outside, reading, “Open With You, You Open Us.” General Sisters is an ongoing practice of resistance and possibility to food apartheid and environmental racism rooted in the collective power of neighbors. Dana and I started building soil, and repairing the building’s roof in 2009 with many friends and neighbors, activating the site as a space for learning, gathering, sharing, and dreaming. Since then, we have worked with our neighbors to educate and organize to stop hydraulic fracturing in our community, hosted workshops on biodiversity, indoor/outdoor air quality, herbal tea blending, and hosted shared meals cooked with our neighbors. We are a space in transition from one dream to another, informed by the conditions of our neighborhood. We are working with Carnegie Mellon University’s Masters in Urban Design Studio with architect Nida Rehman, an extension of her Archive of Air project, to re-envision a neighborhood space as a site for research and gathering, an ecological study center that centers our bodies, our pleasure, and our breath.

These are the ways that I work and move and generate as an artist, together with others, always, building collective knowledge. This is my practice.