Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground, 2019

Installation shots from the Lenfest Center for the Arts, Columbia University, 2019 (top image: in-studio process shot)

Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground, 2019
Dimensions variable
Standard grave dimensions, wood, off-grid solar kit, personal belongings

While Dad was in the hospital I built an object the size of a grave: 3 x 8 x 6 ft. It filled the center of my studio leaving 4-5 ft on all sides. I worked around this grave-box for 9 months as I tried to develop other projects. Eventually it became the central element of ‘Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground.’ On top of the grave-box I placed a collection of things that I’ve touched and that have touched me over the last four decades as I’ve built a life alongside the deeply felt absence caused by Dad’s alcoholism. An off-grid solar kit powers the electronic elements on top of the box, making the sculpture self-reliant and isolating it from the shared networks around it. And near the floor I placed the letter I wrote my father explaining why I no longer wanted to have any interaction with him, his reply from his hospital bed 6 months later, and the program from his memorial service.

For me, the work stands as a marker of frozen, chronic grief, both old and new.