Salvaged and new wood, personal belongings, found objects
Installation approximately 12' x 12' x 12'
In 1973, I returned from graduate school to live and work in New Hampshire, where I had grown up. Neighbors in the small town of Sutton asked if I would be willing to photograph the interior of the house owned by Everett Howe, who lived alone and had let the house fall into disrepair. The weight of snow on a shed roof made it collapse in the winter of 1977, forcing Howe to move out of the house. I had been curious about the interior of his small frame house, and did not bother to tell anyone that I was only an amateur photographer. What I found on the interior was a startling and beautiful mix of decay and carefully arranged objects; a kind of still life gone to rot. For example, in his mother’s and sister’s bedrooms, long since closed off after their deaths, I discovered dresser drawers filled with neatly folded articles of clothing that had been put away perhaps thirty years earlier. I recognized the need to sell the property in order to provide for Mr. Howe’s care, but I regretted the loss of this living time capsule. Initially, I had no intention of using this as a source for my art, but the experience led me to construct a piece in which I would try to capture the qualities I encountered. Because Howe himself had not been at home when I photographed his environment, I felt I knew him best through his objects. This argued against including some likeness of him. Instead, the figure is implied, a direction which continues to inform much of my work. Although there was no glass wall separating viewers from the interior, gallery goers respected the implication of a division and remained outside the piece.