The Smoking Room
I spent 10 months (August 2008-May 2009) in a second floor studio and living space fashioned from a converted cotton gin. The view from the upstairs porch looked out toward an orchard on the alluvial plains of the Rio Grande . Not far away Ciudad Juarez droned and cracked.
My drawings became a means for me to reconcile, admit, and absorb the perplexing and harsh landscape along the border. I alternated between periods of seclusion in my studio and excursions across the bridge to Juarez.
Moving back and forth, I picked up discarded cigarette packages along Texas and New Mexico irrigation ditches, in grocery store parking lots, on the sidewalks and streets of Juarez and Las Palomas, everywhere I went. The purposefulness of this collecting relieved some of my anxiety about the situations I encountered along the border. The collecting was finite, focused, purposeful and repetitious. It helped me to keep the insanity at bay.
I drew these dirty and crumpled and misshapen cigarette packages in a scale that approached the human head. Their image filled each picture space. They were portraits of artifacts that shared common features, but whose histories made each one an individual. The packages came to represent the dead and their abundance kept pace with the daily murder statistics in Juarez .