Tiny Hill Adventures was a poetic idea, a collaborative art experiment, and a participatory exhibition, made possible by the openness of fellow Kenyon College students and a grant from the Horn Gallery, that summed up the vast and tiny experience of my time as a college student.
Since freshman year I had been carrying a camera with me almost everywhere I went at school, and half of the show was made up of 100 prints of my favorite shots from that series. The other half showcased mixed media works, mostly varieties of text-based sculpture, that were inspired by email exchanges with other students over the course of my senior year. I used mostly every day objects and office supplies as my medium.
From the fall of 2016 to the spring of 2017, I sent questions to a group of 30-some volunteers and used the data from their responses to fuel my art practice. Many of the works allowed the final audience to contribute further to the information I gathered, or respond in other ways, creating an exchange that I as artist made possible but did not alter.
1. virtual valentine
Q: what's the best email you've gotten?
2. comfort umbrella
Q: what do you tell yourself when the road gets rough?
"õnn elus / leiad rõõmu elus olemise (find happiness in being alive)"
"Our doubts are traitors, / and make us lose the good we oft might win, / by fearing to attempt. The attempt is the thing."
"I always read the poem 'Carrion Comfort' by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I also know the poem by heart so I'll say it to myself."
3. memory map
Q: where was your worst memory on campus? where was your best?
4. chair for an absent person
Q: what's one word you'd use to describe someone you miss?
5. sticky note divinity
Q: what's a yes or no question you want to have answered?
"Should I keep a diary?"
"Does astrology matter?"
"Is there, somewhere in the world, a hedgehog pondering, and often doubting, the meaning of its own little echidna life?"
6. strategic cuts
Q: what do you wish you could cut out of your life?
"Second guessing! Which, ironically, I typed and deleted and retyped a couple times."
"if I could take a scalpel I would take the summer I spent in Wood's Hole and cut it all out of my head. Every last piece of it--from getting there in the dark and feeling the immediate dread of not fitting in, to the nights between beers at the Captain Kid, to Rich and Ken treating me like a trained monkey in the lab, to walking home at 3am after dumping an abusive summer fling, to my research mentor telling me I go to a third rate institution. Nothing is worth keeping, except maybe those sunsets alone on the stone jetty, dipping my sprained foot in cold Atlantic seawater while reading Althea and Oliver and laughing every time something in that book about the transition from teenager to adult got too real."
Q: what accomplishments do you hold dearest to heart?
"I made the Forestry Service Office an Estonian confection called meekook (think layers of honey, cream, and soft white cake) and my Estonian PI took half the cake and ate it in happy tears because he hasn't eaten his country's food since 1994. He thanked me for it and said it was so nice to have something like that even though he knew how much work it was to make meekook. I was really surprised because I didn't think making grown ups cake could make them so happy. (I was mad that the other intern had told him I had been up all night individually baking each layer of the 13 layer meekook tho)"
"April 2011: Made a sad friend laugh until they cried."
"Having the best cat ever. In the whole world. My little boy. My good boy. My powerful boy. July 2005 - February 2017."
Q: what are words you've used to comfort someone?
"I got you."
"The best version of you is already in you."
"He can fuck right off."
Q: what is a song that reminds you of your time at Kenyon College?