This series of postcards was created during a 4 month roving-residency in the American Southwest, called Land Arts of the American West. During this period, a group of artists, writers and architects camped in various public lands throughout Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Texas. Visits to iconic land art sites were paired with visits to uranium mines, nuclear weapon test grounds, radio wave transmitter sites, mine-poisoned Native American land-- all were looked at as human artefact and culture. Much of the time was spent on the road, passing these vacant billboards. The trip ended with the 2016 election. The billboards suddenly took on a sinister tone-- a tone that spoke of silent acquiescence and a looming presence that had been there all along. The images became postcards so that they could be filled with words and sent to those in need of hearing something.
Emerald St., Philadelphia
August 2015-March 2016
Acrylic on canvas, installed on site next to its referent, digital photo documentation, slideshow, newspaper
"I spent much of this year engaged in a wayward project whose final form and ultimate meaning I am still wrangling with. The idea had been lodged in my mind for some time that I wanted to make a public ode to vanishing space, and that I would do so by creating a belabored, trompe l’oeil painting of a beautiful, anonymous factory building in Northeast Philadelphia and install this painting beside the building for passersby to see. I intuited that the changing landscape in this rapidly-transforming neighborhood might render this particular view obsolete at some point in the not-too-distant future, whether through the building of view-obstructing condos, the tearing down of the blue building itself, or some other developer’s space-filling machination. I felt that erecting a handmade facsimile of an apparent reality (mimicking the ubiquitous realtors’ signs), might offer a kind of acknowledgement. Something about the way that we collectively experience space, particularly vacant or unscripted space, and the subsequent feelings that occur when this space becomes owned, and thusly, inscribed and necessarily exclusive. I wanted my painting to make people do a double take, and in that action, to consider or reconsider their own situation at this moment-- and the fugitive nature of this particular spatial, personal and communal now.
Just days after erecting my painting, I was outdone by a local graffiti artist who tagged both it, and the real building behind it, with the same tag. The metallic grey bubble letters “Tober” leered from the two facades like delirious twins. Several days later, the entire building was claimed with names. About a month after this, the City of Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network came out with a truck and buffed both the building and my painting. And so a cycle began, and I became faithful documentarian.
For seven months, this lasted. Scrawled cursive monikers and admonishments met with grey erasure. And the spaces surrounding the installation were no less active. Two buildings went up in the time of my documentation. I watched foundations get laid and frames get built, I watched backhoes and bulldozers level the earth and dump piles of gravel. I watched men carry drywall, shout curses, eat their lunches. I watched high school kids walk home in clusters under 3 o’clock, winter-lit skies. One day I dropped my camera lens on a yellow “We Buy Houses” sign. I became friendly with the blue building’s owner, an auto mechanic named Tony, who was so casual about the whole project, despite the fact that it might be luring people to deface his building. (I later found out he had a daughter in art school). But really, it is the painting who witnessed it all. I just tromped around, and clicked my camera, when I could.
On a blustery day in March, the painting toppled. It appears to have been punctured by a wind-borne piece of debris from the neighboring construction site. I dragged the painting and a few notable bricks back into my studio, from whence it came. I am left with this, and my copious documentation. "
- Kaitlin Pomerantz
1. Manifesto, digital photo-collage and digital photo, 2015
2. Good Fences, digital photo-collage and digital photo, 2015
3. Content Aware, digital photo-collage and digital photo, 2015
"These images and accompanying patterns emerged from a visual research project on the history of camouflage patterns. I am interested in the way that landscape has been represented, abstracted and systematized via camouflage patterns (military, for hunters and fisherman) in such a way as to be able to allow one to dissolve right back into that landscape. Simultaneously, I am watching the city where I have lived for six years, Philadelphia, PA, go through a rapid transformation and gentrification; before this, I saw even more extreme metamorphoses in New York and San Francisco, where I also lived. Quick-built luxury lofts insinuate themselves into longstanding vacancy. Neon house-wraps and Tyvek sheeting billow in the breeze, heralding the deletion of decay. My photographs and photo-based camouflage patterns conflate the language of nature camouflage with urban morphology; and seek to pin, track, alter and riff on the quick and slippery language of development that curtains our experience of our landscape. "
- Kaitlin Pomerantz
design proposal, including plant and fence installation, architectural salvage; drawings and visualizations by Kaitlin Pomerantz
A proposed monument to the City of Philadelphia, presented to the public in Spring, 2015 for the Monument Lab project- a speculative research project curated by Ken Lum, A. Will Brown, and Paul Farber, sponsored by Pew Charitable Trust and the Penn Center for Urban Research. Pomerantz' proposed project, for WE THE WEEDS, was to insert a vacant lot into Philadelphia's Washington Square Park, and to scatter assorted architectural fixtures from decaying homes in Philadelphia. More:
Describing the motley nature of Philadelphia’s visual landscape, Kaitlin Pomerantz of WE THE WEEDS notes, “A single square block may contain traces of the Founding Fathers, a chug-along factory from the industrial heyday, blown out windows from a home abandoned during White Flight, a vacant lot consumed by nature’s forces, and the billowing of Tyvek from a rising construction project.” Inspired by SEPTA’s motto: “We’re getting there”, which Pomerantz terms “a hopeful yet eternally provisional slogan,” WE THE WEEDS’ plan calls for the artists to clear a vacant lot within the park’s lawn, and to re-site architectural features from decaying homes throughout Philadelphia (stoops and door frames, for example) within the park as objects with which visitors can interact. All inserted objects, as well as the cleared lot space, will be left untended, so that ruderal plant species (weeds) can reclaim these zones of the park. This array of insertions will create an alternative landscape within the highly manicured park that more realistically represents Philadelphia's eclectic urban space and palimpsest-like architectural and ecological history. The scattered, deconstructed lot installation also refers to the park's history as a burial ground for indigent and anonymous soldiers, African slaves, yellow fever victims and other disenfranchised members of Old Philadelphia whose bones rest below Washington Square’s neat lawn. This monument-scape seeks to honor the variety present in Philadelphia's built and natural environment and open a dialogue about its future development.
NASA.gov live solar camera, clock, playing/hanging together
"It takes eight minutes for the sun’s light to travel to planet Earth, so when we look at the sun, what we are really seeing is the sun as it was eight minutes ago. This idea that our view of the sun-- and by extension, our perception of all nature-- is inherently mediated and anachronistic, seems somehow emblematic of the ecological situation we find ourselves in: humanity as a population of creatures unable to jive rhythmically with the planet on which we reside, and the planetary bodies which sustain us.
As I considered what an artwork about this topic might look like, I soon found myself lost in a rabbithole of online solar imagery: stills and videos from NASA and other astrological sites showing the sun from different angles, through different lenses, in different states of waxing, waning, eclipse, explosive fusion. A bevy of mediations, of portraits, really, of this thing, the sun. I was reminded of a Ray Bradbury story in which the sun comes out only once every seven years, for one day. In the tale, children who can remember the sun fight over what it looked and felt like: "It's like a penny!" says one. "No, it's like a fire, in the stove!" says another.
It occurs to me that for humans, there is no such thing as an unadulterated sun. Even when we sneak a forbidden, squinted glance up to it in the sky-- what we are seeing is always eight minutes behind."
- Kaitlin Pomerantz
river surface on paper
An ongoing project with collaborator John Broderick Heron, river prints capture river surface flotsam and oils onto paper using marbling technique (without adding any oil or pigment to the water). Pomerantz and Heron have created river prints in most of Philadelphia and New York's waterways, as well as select international destinations. For more collaborative work by Pomerantz and Heron, click here.
From Michael Phillips, in the Wall Street Journal, 2016:
Past artists hand made paper from trash and then dipped it in the scummy surface of the Delaware River, creating marble-like designs. “It was a perfect pairing of recycled paper and toxic printmaking,” said Lucia Thomé, the program’s director of special projects.
Mixed media installation (oyster shells, tabby cement, gypsum cement, cobb, bricks, industrial debris)
HIDDEN MIDDEN is a site specific sculpture installation and aquatic restoration project lead by Kaitlin Pomerantz through her residency at Annmarie Garden; with the collaborative assistance of John Broderick Heron. The installation is on permanent view.
"An oyster midden is a pile of discarded oyster shells. Oyster middens stretched for miles along Eastern Seaboard-- remnants of ancient Indian cultures who lived along the coast and consumed large quantities of oysters. When cars were invented in the early 20th century, many of these historical piles were mined and hauled away for use as road fill. Though this was good for road building, it was bad for marine ecology, as the shell middens served as sources of nutrients for new marine life.
Hidden Midden is a creative rumination on this historical phenomenon and a reminder of the layers of history and remnants of the past that lay hidden, at each moment, beneath our feet. In this pile, we see the progression from the natural world to the industrial, built world. But- in the weeds and mosses that have inserted themselves onto this work-- we also see how nature ignores man's efforts and layers of concrete, and chooses to grow and thrive where it will. All of the objects in this sculpture are discarded materials-- shells from a happy diner's meal, bricks from an old house, asphalt from a bygone playground. Let us remember that our waste tells our story, and that waste need not be wasted-- but can be used toward, and will inevitably lead to, some form of new life."
- Kaitlin Pomerantz
On Site Review
Mixed media paper-based works created during summer residency at RAIR Philly
Collaborative and individual works in handmade paper, collage, print and sculpture by Kaitlin Pomerantz and John Broderick Heron, created during their summer 2014 residency at RAIR Philly. Works are made from fibrous materials and hand-fashioned tools sourced from the waste stream. Highlighted pieces include scum "river prints"-- prints made using a pseudo-marbling technique, from the polluted surface of the Delaware River. The works are ruminations on human consumption and disposal cycles; and the nature of new geographies formed and deformed by human impact.
From the Wall Street Journal, 2016: Past artists hand made paper from trash and then dipped it in the scummy surface of the Delaware River, creating marble-like designs. “It was a perfect pairing of recycled paper and toxic printmaking,” said Lucia Thomé, the program’s director of special projects.
Mixed-media exploration of the relationship between the built and natural, surface, and decay. 2015
Oil paintings and intaglio prints (aquatint with drypoint) depicting the spaces where images once hung. 2012-13
Handmade paper-based works exploring the waste cycle, tectonics and flow. Works made during RAIR residency from found fibrous matter using scrap-built papermaking tools. 2014