Languages of the Land

Languages of the Land, A Dialogue with the Downs (2005-2009)

This project culminated with a traditional book based on an installation of life-sized book pages, suspended in a 30′ x 30′ space, with a soundtrack of voices telling stories about a cherished public park on the Warwick waterfront, just south of Pawtuxet Village. The audio compilation and installation of black and white monoprint/collage landscapes on rice paper celebrated and honored the history of Salter Grove, known to old timers as The Downs. In developing this installation, I spent time photographing, sketching and writing at the park, researching and asking local residents about Salter Grove’s past and their personal experiences there. I handed out disposable cameras to park visitors and asked them to photograph their favorite spots or views. During a weekend cleanup of the park, I asked participants to select a “treasure” from the items collected. These treasures were arranged on the walls of the exhibition space.

The suspended images of digital prints on Nepalese paper felt like thin hide, but moved like cloth. The thinness of the paper allowed the landscape and the silhouettes of timeless figures to be seen from both sides. Thus, the shadows of the past haunt the landscape. The movement of the large print collages echoes the fragility yet the constancy of this place. The handheld translation of this installation and project makes it accessible to a broader audience and will hopefully inspire others to look closer and dig deeper into the layers and shadows of their own places. The preservation of such places is vital to our souls.

The Installation

Detail of Languages of the Land InstallationLanguages of the land installationDetail of Languages of the Land InstallationDetail of Languages of the Land InstallationDetail of Languages of the Land InstallationLanguages of the Land InstallationLanguages of the Land book

Working with the Community

Photo of Pawtuxet CoveMan who shared photos of Salter GrovePhotograph of Rock IslandCambodian boy with father fishingResidents clean up the parkPark Visitors clean up the parkLong time resident recorded