Over the course of two days and with the help of students and faculty at Oklahoma State University, an ephemeral Red Dirt Rug was installed directly onto the ground and incorporated with the existing exposed soil at the OSU Botanic Garden. After creating multiple iterations of Red Dirt Rug with finely sifted loose soil in (interior) galleries and museums across the US, this is the first iteration of the work existing outside. In the days following the installation, Stillwater was graced with a much needed heavy rain, thus beginning the process of erasing the pattern and returning the soil to the land.
This work embodies the complicated history of our relationship to nature, particularly in my current state of residence, Oklahoma, where human presence has deeply altered the landscape. This rich red earth is the land of the Dust Bowl, the end of the Trail of Tears, land runs and pipelines, deep fault lines and hydraulic fracturing. There is immense beauty and pride in this place and also profound sorrow.
The refining and sifting of the soil and the imprinting of the pattern is a meditation on this past, a gesture of sensitivity, and the desire for understanding. It is a meticulous and solitary act.
The form of the rug, from a western perspective, is an object of luxury; it is a symbol of authority and power. Though it is also an article of beauty and cultural significance and the result of many hours of careful labor. Through this form, I attempt to question the tension between nature and human impact while suggesting the ubiquitousness and preciousness of the earth just below our feet.
Red Dirt Rug | 2018
Oklahoma State University Botanic Garden, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Loose red Oklahoma soil, imprinted with modified shoe soles