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My work is about change. Utilizing digital 3D computer modeling and printing technology in tandem with glass blowing and casting processes, I create work depicting population shifts tied to the dynamic between industry and community. By showing how landscapes and populations move and are modified as a result of industry, my work creates a 3D lens to view that which is invisible or forgotten. My use of blown glass forms and vinyl cut drawings are micro-models of macro changes at the regional, national, and international levels.
For the past decade, I have used mapping technology and materials of industry—ceramics, glass, steel—to investigate the relationship between manufacturing and population migration in American cities. This focus on industry and demographics results from growing up in Detroit in the '70s and '80s and witnessing the devastation caused by auto industry changes and "white flight." Because of where I lived and my multiethnic and immigrant family history, I was interested in geographic and cultural shifts implied in the movement of populations. This led me to research other periods of history where major population shifts took place, and their relationship to rapid industrial growth and decline.
Early in my art career, I was mostly engaged with the communal and collaborative aspects of glass blowing. Building upon these experiences, I then moved beyond the hot shop to consider the metaphor of material—using glass as a tool with which to express a fragile balance between time, as a concept, and efficiency in production practices. I now find glass to be extremely compelling and appreciate the challenge of forming it into objects that describe change. Using a sixteenth-century Italian reticello technique allows me to employ the plasticity of glass. The surface implies a network or system that I then ascribe to the structures of cities in population graphs. Although my primary objective is to explore how separate geographic regions have been linked through world events, I am also deeply rooted in the traditions of the glass and its process.
Hand-blown glass forms in my projects Cities: Departure and Deviation and Global Cities combine a traditional craft practice with data visualization. Through my interactions with numerous audiences, I have found that statistical representations foster connections outside of my field and draw people into conversations about migration. By looking at issues in a broad survey of cities, my work encourages individuals to ask questions about the interconnectivity between their community and other local communities. In playing with notions of fragility of material and populations, I hope my work asks people to examine their own histories of migration, from personal and communal standpoints, just as it continues to help me navigate and explore my own.
To complement my involvement within the craft discipline, I have sought out conversations with specialists in other areas—historians, urban planners, demographers, [End Page 116] and statisticians—which helped deepen my understanding of the subject matter. Mining Industries distills these conversations into kilncast glass objects paired with early twentieth-century hand-drawn Sanborn Insurance Fire Maps (detailed layout of architectural footprints in American cities...