PIONEER

Below is images and a description of a custom built mobile studio/living space in a 24 ft enclosed trailer. The long-term project is possible through a 2017/18 Pollock Krasner grant.  “The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Inc. was established in 1985 for the sole purpose of providing financial assistance to individual working visual artists of established ability through the generosity of the late Lee Krasner, one of the leading abstract expressionist painters and the widow of Jackson Pollock.The Foundation is pleased to report that since its inception in 1985, it has awarded over 4,300 grants totaling over 68 million dollars to artists in 77 countries.

To accurately explain the vision of the project it makes sense to go back to my 2016 thesis project ‘Rural Decay Almanac’ at the University of Maryland. For this Project I researched the rural outskirts of the District/Maryland/Virginia area to find a barn for dismantling. I did so through Craigslist, Agricultural Newspapers, and social media pages made up of bartering farmers.  I found some incredible old homes, massive tobacco barns, disgusting chicken coops, and met some amazingly peculiar folks.  With only a month left before my thesis project I chose a site in Ijamsville, MD - about an hour away from my studio on campus.  The dismantle and clean up took 3 full days, and I documented the process.  The materials then turned into three different objects for my thesis exhibition: Almanac, Azimuth, Gnomon, - and the video/sound installation, Cartographer. The following is an excerpt from my written thesis:

"The barn or ­- A barn ­- ANY barn ­is loaded with conceptual and narrative baggage. In every layer of paint, every bent nail, and every scar in the lumber there lies an instance in history. Every smell that has ever fumed the barn is in the boards, and every material to ever have touched the lumber has left some kind of patina on the surface. The interior has never seen light or water, while the tin roof has been bleached by intense sun, sleet, rain, and snow.

The rural landscape of America is littered with dilapidated barns; collapsing on top of abandoned animal homes and piles of decomposed straw or hay. Their timeline is determined by their care and construction. Their history is told through their scars and collections of detritus; torn up hoses and extension cords, parts of old hand tools that have seized shut, animal carcasses that have degraded to leather and bone, broken glass, shelves full of grease gun reloads, empty nests made from faded tarp fibers, mason jars with rusty nails in them, barrels of mystery oil, crumbled roofing shingles, and remnants half finished projects.
The mysterious history of the site is the unknown factor of the project. This idea is transferred from the barn to the gallery space through the finished objects. Just as I did while I dismantled barn, the viewer will create their own story. The sculptures in their materiality call to some kind of function, left unexplained ­and open to evaluate."

Pioneer is a continuation of this idea.  The plan is to (eventually) have a map across the country that an audience can trek and visit sculptures made out of former structures.  The hunt for spaces and conversations with farmers will be a large part of the project with video/sound documentation perhaps interviewing the owners’ stories about the site. More often than not, the structures I’m thinking of have a wildly interesting story buried amongst the debris inside. In one instance searching for a structure in Maryland, a sweet older woman who was offering up her barn told me I had to take it down rapidly before it was sold off by the bank who took it over after a lawsuit involving a family member feud over a shared wife-lead to a gunfight inside the barn.  Another barn I was interested in lead me to a spooky house up an intense hill across an active train track where I arrived late at night to sleep in my truck in order to wake up and get right to work on the deconstruction.  The barn was further up the hill behind where I slept and it snowed overnight. My truck couldn’t make it up the hill through their thin driveway under a powerline and I ended up breaking their rock-laden driveway into pieces and jackknifing my trailer into my truck… the barn was too daunting and the project too dangerous for one person anyway.

It will be some time before I get to doing any trips with the mobile unit, as I’m still in the construction and planning stages. The following includes images and a description of the process and work related to the project thus far. 

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After doing a lot of research on efficient mobile homes I decided it would be most worthwhile to purchase an enclosed utility trailer.  I found some trailer dealers and worked with them to build a custom model to fit my needs. The design specs include:

-16” on center steel tube frame

-Painted aluminum exterior walls

-Plywood interior

-8’ int. height x 8.5’ width x 24’ length

-2 @ 7,000lb. Axles

-Person door on passenger side and folding ramp as back wall

-Extended 3 bar tongue

The trailer was manufactured by Cynergy in Douglas, GA (the land of never ending cotton). I drove down to pick it up - slept in my truck cab in a Walmart parking lot and drove right back the next day.  The unit will be divided - front half being the living space, and tool storage in the back. Below you can see the first time the trailer kissed my truck in the Georgia sand.

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The first job after returning to my studio was to strip the plywood out of the interior in the front half and fasten clips for mounting the hardboard insulation.

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I found three decent cheap windows at the local Habitat for Humanity Restore and cut through the steel and aluminum to mount them.

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Next I began to build out the separating wall and frame out the bathroom space.

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The new floor is a mix of white and red oak - cheaper to mix and match and use shorts leftover from previous larger orders.

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After the flooring came the Knotty Pine tongue and groove paneling. For the crown trim and trim around the windows and doors I ripped the paneling into smaller strips and burned them as an accent.

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The bathroom will have a composting toilet and a small shower. For the shower, I built it into the off-square corners of the room to save weight and space (as opposed to installing a premade shower). I used FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Panel) - it’s light, fully waterproof, and mold/mildew resistant.  The plumbing is all done with ½” Pex pipe with sharkbite valves and pinch clamp elbows.

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Most of the guts of how the house are built under the countertop. The house runs on 110 Volt 20 amp service.  All I will be powering with electricity is LED lights, Propane water heater (just the display and regulator), the 12V water pump (with a power inverter), a small refrigerator, cell phone charger, and some other small kitchen stuff..

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Here you can see a little more of the plumbing and electricity. The power comes in to the breaker with a 10 gauge 110 Volt extension cord. The breaker box has 2 @ 15 amp, and 2 @ 20 amp circuits. The water inlet can work in two ways.  Under the oven there’s a 46 gallon holding tank that I can fill before I travel - that’s what the pump is for. If I’m at a place with a hose hookup, there’s another exterior inlet to use constant water from the hose. The sink and shower will drain into a holding tank that can be recycled as it will only be grey water.

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On the exterior is the two water inlets (one to fill the holding tank, and one for constant water).  The power inlet is in between them, and to the right is the water heater exhaust.  

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Up next is the propane tank and lines - for the wall mounted heater, stove and oven, and hot water heater.  Then clean up and polyurethane the walls and floor, install the composting toilet, install the refrigerator, build out the lofted bed, build out the cabinets and shelves, and then the entire studio half in the back. I plan to have a 10,000 watt gas generator I can wheel in and out to power even 220 volt machines (welder, plasma cutter, etc).  I’d like to have a roll-out canopy on the side of the unit opposite the person door. Tools will be stored in the back and wheeled out for use (Mig welder, plasma cutter, oxy-acetylene torch rig, table saw, miter saw, air compressor (all on wheels), steel and wood hand-held power tools, as well as manual tools) It’s gonna be a tight squeeze.

 

Thanks for reading, that’s where I’m at as of now. For the future - please help me think of barns/sheds/old structures to take down. I’d like to say houses too, but I’m hesitant to get into that for various reasons. I’d like to meet your aunts friends wife, whos mother’s barn in Arkansas that she was married in and is made of hand-hewn oak from the original farmer on the property where he hid his prohibition era still is falling apart and needs to be retired. Thanks.