Fairly early in the writing of my doctoral dissertation, I found, like many engaged in this process do, that there are issues and questions that I could not easily pursue within the scope of the project. These, coupled with the impulse/need to have a creative outlet for those moments when ideas want to come, but refuse to be written cogently, resulted in the development of an artistic project. PINT: Values Lost is a series of artwork developed to compliment/complicate my interdisciplinary dissertation project.
Though created to stand independently, the five mixed-media projects together tell a multi-layered story about contemporary American culture, capitalism, power, everyday material artifacts, and the raced and gendered subjectivities that emerge in relation to such fraught and overdetermined formations. Though I showed this work in February 2014, all pieces are still in progress.
The first piece, A Thinking Man’s Game, takes up the historically messy interconnections between the brewing industry, baseball, American identity, and black masculinity in an installation of deconstructed and re-contextualized baseball cards. It contemplates the economic reliance of pervasive American industries, such as beer and baseball, on black male bodies and these industry’s simultaneous efforts to conceal that reliance.
The second piece, Bottles, explores beer consumption as a site of meaning with reference to urban blackness. It introduces rarely posed questions about gendered interaction in these sites of meaning making through textile-based explorations of the brown paper bag and 40oz beer bottle. By using the same materials that circulate urban everyday life—paper and glass—in a formal engagement that makes use of a traditionally feminine art, Bottles seeks to dislocate and thus question the meanings that circulate with this object.
The third piece, a collection of currently untitled photographs, raises questions about the pervasive narratives that characterize America’s founding fathers as patriotic homebrewers of beer. Given the general understanding of brewing as women’s work in the colonial era, and fact that domestic labor was organized within the apparatus of American slavery for privileged families, these photographs envision a probable (but undocumented) tradition of brewing among African-American women.
The fourth piece, an unhinged polytych, charts the brewing process as a creative interpretation and subversive response to the recipe, as an organizer of brewing practice. Conceived simultaneously as exploratory recipe cards and archival documents of actual brewing experiences, Gravity and Other Measures contemplates the brewing process as a space of confrontation with convention as it operates within the world of brewing and beyond.
The fifth piece is a collection of homebrewed beers designed to compliment the four pieces of visual art in the series. “All-American Pastime Pale Ale”, “Belgian Blue Malt Liquor”, “Brew House Negro Colonial Ale”, and the “Divine Red Ale” were brewed to be tasted in concert with the visual experience of each piece—making use of brewing techniques and experiments that are intended to extend or provide further commentary on the themes broached in the visual work.