Having been easily moved by random events that occurred on our road trips – added to the constant overlay of broader events affecting our world - each work in this collection reflects an actual random experience from our travels. But I can’t seem to help myself from conflating these personal events with the current issues of our time.
And so, combined with the collection of physical findings, random happenings from our time on the road, and my gravitation toward the political, the result is this work that is at once intimately personal, while offering broader social commentary.
On the roads of Cape Brenton in Nova Scotia, night was falling. More than once, an owl would swoop out of the forest and fly across the road, illuminated by our headlights. Suddenly there was a loud impact on our windshield. We knew one of those owls had hit us. It left an uneasy feeling as we drove on through the night. Later, in August, in Oregon, we were driving to experience the total eclipse and saw a large mound of feathers on the side of the road. We stopped and discovered an owl, the victim of the same kind of impact we had experienced two months earlier in Nova Scotia. We took a few feathers from this magnificent creature. This piece spans those two locations, and commemorates these events. It is a way to communicate my awareness of our own footprint as we venture into the natural world, and also a way to convey that visceral reaction at the moment of impact.
There were 8 forest fires raging in New Mexico during our time there. At times, we had feared our camp spots might be overwhelmed with smoke. We had decided to drive up an ancient caldera and around the rim only to find out that the southern route was blocked by fires. So we headed up through Los Alamos, the birthplace of the Atomic Bomb, to take a northern route, Forest Road 144. A spectacular drive, we could see the live fire across the caldera, but we also drove through areas devastated by past fires. “Fire” relates this drive, and uses a piece of charred wood found here. It also combines a carved hand grenade (purchased at a roadside curio shop), New Mexican churro wool, and red chili peppers from Chimayo. Paired with “Ice”, the two works speak to the dangerous precipice on which we find ourselves - the brink of nuclear conflict, or the potential devastation caused by climate change.
We were visiting the White Sands National Monument and somehow, I didn’t think twice about putting some of the sand in a bag for a future work. I also found some white plastic netting and I was struck by the aesthetic of the white on white effect of the netting embedded in the sand. Later, while collecting some dry grasses, I was confronted by two rangers who drove up to ask what I was doing. Needless to say, my collection was not allowed, and upon further search, they found my bag of sand too. I’m ashamed of my reaction to the rangers, because I told a few “white lies” in this exchange. I lost the sand and I got a $200.00 fine. I made “White Lies” to relate this very real incident, but it also speaks to the idea of white privilege and how it holds no substance. What might this have to say about our broader social condition in today’s world?
For the first time, my husband Bill Timmerman (who is a photographer), and myself orchestrated a show together. The show visually relates specific findings from our summer travels in 2017. Bill looks for ties between the built and unbuilt world, while I employ the serendipity of found objects and random experiences – brought together to convey new messages.
Below is featured some of my work from the show along with its accompanying story and images from the road.
We underestimated the time it would take us to drive the Cape Brenton loop on the northeastern end of Nova Scotia. As night fell, we realized that if we kept driving, we would miss the magnificent views and landscape in the dark. So, with some trepidation on my part, we pulled just off the road at a viewpoint widening and decided to spend the night in the car. We carefully positioned the vehicle so that in the morning, our view would be down a vast valley, on out to the sea. It was a bit scary, but we were left undisturbed. Back on our way the next morning, we stopped at a beach where there were thousands of sea-smoothed stones stacked in cairns everywhere as far as we could see. It was as if we were receiving confirmation of our decision to stop and let time pass, so that we would not miss such a sight as this field of cairns. How often must we remind ourselves to stop, and catch time?
The work in this exhibition is my personal attempt to translate the turmoil that I, and many in this country feel. We’ve been stripped, twisted, wound up tight, and tied into knots over what we are hearing and experiencing on a daily basis with the Trump White House.
Using Trump "Make America Great Again" campaign t-shirts that have been cut into strips, those long pieces were tightly twisted to create rope, and then tied into a series of knots. Each knot carriers a title and description based on its real-life name and purpose – but has been reinterpreted to reference the barrage of stunning headlines emanating from the Trump administrations’ antics and careless policies.
On the back of each knot plaque is a print of the real-life headline that inspires the use of its corresponding NOT knot.
phICA's Onloaded 5 Container Galleries
(All photos by Bill Timmerman)
© 2017, Ann Morton
Local NPR afifliate, KJZZ spoke with Ann Morton and Christina Park about the 27th Ave. Public Arts Residency exhibition on display at the Phoenix City Hall. Follow this link to hear the interview featuring work by both Morton and Christine Lee.
On March 6, 2017, the Re-Thanks installation at the Arizona Science Center officially opened. The night started with the exhibition at the Phoenix City Hall and then everyone hopped on trolleys for a short trip over to the Arizona Science Center to see over 3100 flowers made by the community from their own recycled trash - cascading in a 12 ft. x 15 ft. floral wall right inside the entry doors. Every flower carries a bright green note of thanks to the workers who pick up, move and sort our recyclable trash everyday. The notes appear as leaves in this field of colorful gratitude!
In addition to the Re-Thanks project, I've been busy making a series titled "Warning Signals". From my individual collection efforts from the dump, I amassed a significant number of children's toys, clothing and school papers. These paired with other materials I found have come together in this series to question the messages we give to our children - as revealed through these discarded items. Each piece features a combination of textile techniques to assemble, attach and collage these disparate items in a cohesive series with a story. Here is a preview of some details - stay tuned for images of the entire series. (you might recognize Barbie from the home page of this website.)
In early February, a band of volunteers gathered to push us over the top to a count of nearly 3500 flowers, and 3 more garland components for the big install. Pictured are Lois Flynn, Candace Wilkinson, and Nancy Nakamoto.
Over a month's time, Miguel Monzon helped with the final assembly to the finish line. Here he is right after the project was installed at the Arizona Science Center. The opening is yet to come on March 6th, 2017. I can't wait for all the amazing flower makers to enjoy their work in this huge display!
Here's a preview of the piece just inside the entry at the Arizona Science Center. The final installation image is coming soon right after the official opening on March 6th.
Since August, community participants have been making flowers for the ReThanks project from their own recyclable trash. Many have extended the community by inviting friends and family to join in the making. From church groups to elementary school students, to college art classes, and individual flower-making parties, hundreds of people are participating to express their gratitude to the workers who keep our lives in order by sorting through our trash each day.
New Work in Progress
This is an ongoing narrative that follows new projects in progress.