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Artist Statement - Rondell Crier

Sometimes I find myself wondering about the origins of an object. For what purpose was it created? What did it take to design and fabricate it? Who owns it and why did they chose that particular item? How is it used and why is it discarded and replaced?

It may seem odd to consider that non-breathing things have a life, but when you compare the existence of a physical object to a human, there are many core elements that are shared: the birth of humans by humans as to the creation of items by humans; the race, class, and character of a human as to the color, size and character of an item; and the aging and death of a human being as to the aging and discarding of an object. These basic similarities show that items are as real as we are. They have a life filled with a purpose, a need, and a place to exist.

When Jana told me about her collecting the drawers, I immediately thought that this would be my opportunity to create an interactive art piece that would represent the life of an item — or in this case 610 items — in hopes that others would also appreciate experiencing the depth of life of an item.

My vision is to create a living database of the drawers, so that people can view and listen to information about them — to understand that objects are essentially living like we are. They have a creation date (birth), a definite death (destruction/disposal), a color, a purpose for existing, a name, and many other attributes that are associated with defining an existence.

Walking the streets of my hometown, New Orleans, after the storm was an experience that could not be put into words. So, I took pictures with my camera. Even the powerful imagery of the 500 plus photos I took wasn’t enough to represent the mass destruction. I mounted a camcorder on my car and videotaped as I drove around the city, sometimes for over thirty minutes straight. This still wasn’t enough to capture the devastation. Then I realized that these things on the street were the representatives of the people in these neighborhoods and homes. The presence of people was absent from all my shots, but life wasn’t. Personal belongings were all that was left to identify life. I captured many pictures — things that were rusted from the salt water, ceiling fans with bent wooden blades from mold and moisture, houses in the middle of the street, a child’s toy doll laying in the street never to be played with again, broken plates from a kitchen bursting out of a huge crack in the corner of a house, a car buried under sand and dirt with only the roof exposed, and a beautiful tile floor of a home -- lit by the sun because the rest of the house was completely gone. The vast amount of loss due to the flood was seen in our personal belongings. Things that were all a part of our lives because we hand-picked them and loved them. I realized that I could explain the magnitude and meaning of loss through objects, forcing others to connect on a direct personal level.

Rondell Crier