West Virginia and other places
I am interested in West Virginia as a sanctuary of nature and explore it voraciously by railtrail on a bike and by streams and rivers in a kayak. Morgantown is a river town and I can be on the water after work faster than I could navigate the traffic to go home. It is an immediate vacation and meditative environment. I want to be watchful to protect it from exploitation, and get involved when I see a threat. I also am interested in communities in West Virginia who have never lost social capital completely, but work hard to improve it. I want to contribute to that cause.
I also love to explore environments that other native peoples love, the arrid Israel and Haiti, the jungles of Brazil and El Salvador, the historic changing China, the medieval agricultural valleys of Tuscany. Understanding other cultures helps us look freshly at our own, the parallels and the uniquenesses. Getting down and dirty helping people improve their places becomes the best way to explore. I find that sharing sweat and stories develops trust and makes memories permanent. It also permeates the language barrier. Being a designer sometimes matters and sometimes doesn't.
Two kayaks are ready to go most of the time, and I love to introduce people to West Virginia this way.
Textures and objects collected on these mini-adventures end up in pieces I make, be it art, design for clients, or a useful metaphor. This 27" tall piece, called Doppleganger, includes some horsetail, snakeskin, turkey feather, porcupine quills, curly vine tendrils, twigs, and parallel manmade textures and forms. The type is letterpress on handmade paper.
I traveled to Haiti with my partner, hoping to set up a shipping container converted to self-sufficient house, but got involved with a Water Missions International project on the ground. This NGO is responsible for eliminating cholera after the earthquake. This image shows a search for water in a well at an orphanage.
As it turns out, my love of drawing letters was of use in Haiti, helping Water Missions sign their new facility after losing their old one in the earthquake. It is on a shipping container turned apartment that was brought from Japan.
I think every designer today has a responsibility to be involved in politics. It's quite the design problem, connecting voters to issues that should matter to them, and to the champions of those views. It's critically important to saving democracy on the national level and for doing the right things locally as well. I have at times supported candidates by trying innovative approaches to draw attention to underdogss who are underfunded.
Paul Brown was running on an environmental platform. I had fun playing with his name as a color, and creating signs as planters and tire swings and from recycled materials again, including wine corks, bottle lids, and even free biodegradable shopping bags. We even promoted his transportation ideas by using bikes with cards in the spokes. He didn't win, but the campaign won another design award.
Don Spencer is a really good guy. I developed his brand based on his wrought iron bicycle racks he got put downtown, and the baskets on lampposts that really helped revitalization. His work on social justice, though, is most valuable.
I love the properties of paper and have even given a paper on paper. What a versatile material. It also lets me play in 3D and with light and shadow. You will find it creeping into my teaching and research as well as experimenting. This piece is 20" x 20."