Alumni Exhibition: Marisa Lewon and Kaitlyn Jo Smith
Joseph Gross Gallery
Kaitlyn Jo Smith
American Standard , comprised of the works Fixtures and Lights Out , addresses issues surrounding automation by utilizing processes that have rendered the shift-worker nearly obsolete. In American Standard , I have replaced workers with 3D scanning, 3D printing ( Fixtures ) and machine learning ( Lights Out ) to question the ethics surrounding the current state of labor practices in the United States, while drawing attention to the individuals that these processes replace. Through this project, I become the archeologist of my own family’s recent past to show that automated America is not some dystopian fantasy, but rather a contemporary reality with implications for the psyche of an entire societal class.
American Standard is both an archeological and anthropological examination of the present that asks us to consider the implications of automation on America’s working-class and therefore society as a whole. Over the past two years, my father and I have revisited the shuttered American Standard plant where he, and many of his brothers, once worked. In this landscape, we become the archaeologists of our collective histories through the excavation and preservation of once functional pottery, the toilets made by skilled laborers at the now abandoned American Standard factory in Tiffin, Ohio.
Temporary Structures is an amalgamation of sand, skin, self-understanding and time. Combining previous intuitive performance with interactive sculpture, I analyze my fragile relationship with unfamiliar landscapes. Having spent the first 25 years of my life oceanside, moving to the desert became both my inspiration and restraint. I use personal history to understand how the experience of where and how we are raised can alter reactions and perceptions of new landscapes as adults. Displacement and spaces that simultaneously provide comfort and discomfort are themes that serve as interruptions within this piece. While my immediate reactions are profoundly impacted by the varying landscapes I inhabit, the experiential residue of where I have been will never be washed away.
In this work, my perception of, and aversion to, ideas of home are echoed through exploration of personal memory. Utilizing the visual structure of a barnacle, I source the growth process of this creature to create a metaphor for human life. As “children” barnacles can freely swim about, much like a small fish or a tadpole. As they become mature, they create a calcified shell around themselves, remaining in one place until they eventually die, leaving behind just the shell as proof of their existence. There are many parallels that can be drawn between the life cycle of this small shellfish and humans. This fabricated mental reality that my work depicts represents a distinct binary between the desire to never settle and the need to find a place that feels secure.