in the beginning there was corn

corn cobs, broom corn, corn husks, copper wire, dyed leather, whole corn feed

18" x 72"

2021( in progress)

2021.4 In the beginnin ghere was corn.jp
 above: in the beginning there was corn (2021) documentation of installation at Creative Alliance Baltimore
below: detail, in the beginning there was corn (2021) documentation of installation at Creative Alliance Baltimore
2021.4 In the beginning there was corn.j

In March 2020 I came across some rust colored specs that were littered across the bright springy green grass of a park in Reservoir Hill. Upon closer inspection I found that these specs were corn cobs, some with a few plump golden kernels that had yet to be devoured by the resident squirrels. Once they were bare I collected them to use as material. Over the past year these cobs have spurred a deep dive into corn, and all of its many possibilities. As a material corn has offered me a way to be able to honor the aesthetic traditions of my ancestors while also honoring  the land that I occupy and being a better steward of this earth which supports us all.

 

Corn is one of the first inhabitants of this unceded Indigenous land that we occupy. Corn was and is a keystone species for peoples indigenous to the land now known as the Americas. A keystone species is defined as a kind of living being that is critical to an ecosystem, culture or  a people. To this day heirloom corn is still used as a nutritious source of sustenance, as fire starter, as housing insulation. It is used for carving, doll making, and other crafts. It holds spiritual and ritual significance among many peoples. Yet the single story that we hear about corn among those of us who are settlers--whether we chose to come here or were forcefully displaced here--is that it is a harmful, innutritious filler food.

 

In all of my lineages the materials that people used to make art and to represent themselves were always keystone species, things that grew or could be found abundantly where they were. I am not in the same places as my ancestors and elders. The same natural fibers--like raffia for example--are not readily available to me. However, in using locally available materials, keystone species local to me, that function similarly aesthetically and technically, I am able to honor the multiple aspects of the traditions from which I am descended and decrease the environmental impact of my work.