Reflection Floats for Mashapaug Pond (2012)
Mashapaug Pond has been the focus of my work since 2007, when I embarked on a community arts-based project for the Rhode Island Department of Health. The pond has a rich indigenous and industrial history, which I have been mining with local artists, historians, scientists, residents, and Brown University students. I undertook research related to the pond at the Providence Athenaeum and partnering libraries, studying old maps and reading about the split wood baskets made by New England Native American groups who once lived on Mashapaug Pond, and about the Gorham Silver Manufacturing Co, which was located on the pond from 1890 to 1967. History and nature converge in the boat-like floats I envisioned for an installation on the pond. Noting that plants inspired the decoration of domestic objects from both these cultures, I used their designs as decorative elements on the sails of my floats. The ballast, which keeps the floats upright, represents what remains in Mashapaug’s land and waters from the industries of each culture – lead for the Gorham float, clay and stone for the Native Culture float.