I was invited to make a piece for a show called Zeitgeist IV – Preconceptual that opened at the Hillyer Art Space in March. I was given the word “appropriation” as a prompt. That is not a topic I usually consider in my work. So I decided to go for it and make a piece that really examined appropriation, of all kinds.
I made a crow, another in my series of recycled birds. Crows are often thought to steal objects for their nests, especially shiny objects. I did some research and found o
ut something intriguing—it is a mistaken assumption
that crows are thieves more than any other birds.
First the crow was covered with plain newspaper, as many of the other birds in my series had been. But I knew it would have to be black in order to read more as a crow. I started to collect black advertisements from newspapers to make a second layer of strips for the bird. And then, after Inauguration Day 2017, I was packing newspapers for recycling, and I noticed that both the New York Times and Washington Post had run full-page images of President Trump that were almost all black. SO I decided to cover the crow with those images of the Appropriator in Chief – who likes to collect shiny things and shows little regard for how his collecting affects others.
Then I started to collect objects for the nest. I limited myself to only found objects – appropriated both in terms of how they were acquired and in the fact that I tried to include mostly things that have a culturally appropriative reference as well.
I call it “Finders Keepers” as a comment on how people like to choose the bits they find appealing and often ignore the deeper potential meanings of their choices, either to themselves or to others.
Here is the list of materials that went into the final piece.
- Abandoned garden tools from a community playground build site (two shovels and a rake)
- Reused packaging twist ties
- Sticks gathered from a garden
- Bamboo planting stake
- Daylily leaves
- Two vine Christmas wreaths reclaimed from the garbage
- Aluminum bonsai training wire
- Toilet paper rolls, raisins box, wire hanger, strips of newspaper from Inauguration Day 2017 (full-page images of President Donald Trump)
Objects in Nest
- Blown egg covered with Hannukah gelt wrappers
- Blown egg covered with strips of German bible pages
- Traditional Medicinals herbal tea bag
- Sprig of discarded Christmas tree branch
- Native American reservation fundraiser dream catcher
- Rubber Buddha eraser
- Skull keyring
- Sage smudge stick
- Temporary “henna tattoos”
- Plastic lei
- Gold origami paper crane
- String of Tibetan prayer flags
- Strip of sari silk
- Strip of printed “kente cloth”
- Bamboo chopsticks
- Red kabbalah bracelet
- Child’s glasses
- Replica Republic of Texas money
- Spun newspaper
- Electronics plus and cord
- “Keep this Coupon” coupon
- Marcasite (“fool’s gold”)