The installation, “On the Banks of the Metropolis” on view at the 118th Annual Student Exhibition at PAFA from May 10th through June 2nd, highlights the unnoticed interactions between the city and it’s environment in hopes to make residents rethink their connection to the local landscape.
The name of this painting references the two small cement blocks on the water visible in the second image. These we’re once streams that flowed through Philadelphia.
Back in the mid 19th century, as Philadelphia grew, it experienced massive plagues of yellow fever that killed large portions of the city. This was largely caused by sewage that rotted in the summer months in streams like these. As most cities did at this time, Philadelphia covered these streams and turned them into the sewers we have today. With the names of these creeks and streams lost to history. Since then, all of the infrastructure and buildings you see in this painting have been built on top of them.
This painting is meant to be read left to right. Notice how the water behind the pier disappears behind cars that are over shadowed by oil refineries off in the distance
These decommissioned ships rest nestled together in the dry docks of the Navy Yard because it is cheaper than contracting salvage companies to deconstruct the massive 4,100 ton frigates. These ghost ships highlight another strange way we use our waterfront.
While these views of active piers are less common at the Navy Yard, they are captivating, if not more, than the decommissioned giants that dominate the landscape.
USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG-49) is the frigate I focused on in this painting. It was named after Lieutnant Robert G. Bradley (1921-1944), who was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously for his heroism on USS Princeton during the Battle of Leyte Gulf (The largest naval battle of WWII and possibly in all history by tonnage).
Painted during the Federal government shutdown in the Winter of 2019, ironic view of an American artifact that the our relationship to the waterfront.
The surprisingly comfortable wooden bench is meant to be sat on and felt. The shape of the bench is defined by the rivers and streams that still exist in the metropolis while the carved valleys represent the streams that have been lost or forgotten underneath the modern concrete landscape.
These two streams, center, serve as an example of how the carved lines reference the landscape represented in the paintings. The sewer outlets represented in the painting “22nd and Callowhill Sewer Outlets” are roughly these two long forgotten tributaries that once flowed freely into the Schuylkill. The legend below further emphasizes how the landscape of the past can be understood through the bench and the paintings of the present.
To learn more about my ideas and art, please read an interview published by PAFA: