Local clay, mascara, and rainwater with dirt blown in from the Sahara desert, 2020
Local clay and whitewash made with limestone from West Bouldin Creek, Austin, TX, 2020
Austin Contemporary Crit Group 2020 Exhibition
Nov. 14 - Dec. 13, 2020
My work seeks to unearth histories that have been forgotten or whitewashed using that earth--as a poetic alchemy of material evidence. This body of work is a reflection on the labor and vulnerability required to understand my own complicity in these erasures. Through the material of place, I seek to expose the absurdity and fragility of the subsequent void.
The narrative of materials is critical to my work. Both figurative sculptures are a reflection on two white supremacy cultural characteristics--Perfectionism drips with a lime whitewash, traditionally used as a disinfectant paint, made of local limestone. While Centering leaks mascara and rainwater, collected from Summer storms that brought in dust from the Sahara. These materials clash with ornaments and signage of absurd and colorful commercial cultural identity that first draw the viewer in and then, perhaps, suggest introspection or multiple readings. Sale, or protest?
Other work includes Butler, Elgin, and Seco brick I unearthed from West Bouldin Creek. The daily ritual of gathering bricks connected me, in a physical way, to the labor required for introspection. These bricks, made with local clay, were used to build many of the institutions and monuments of Austin’s whitewashed history. Bouldin Creek is named after Confederate Colonel James Bouldin who purportedly gave over some of his lands to his slaves after the Civil War. A Freedom Colony was established, yet has been erased without memorial. I believe we remain empty and fragile when we deny our history. A connection to the unique material fabric of place is critical to our survival, and we must do the hard labor, both inside and out, to rebuild those foundations.
Cheyenne Weaver was born in San Miguel de Allende, México, and grew up in the corporate suburbs of Austin, Texas. She received a BFA from CalArts in 2004 and a master’s in social design from AC4D in 2011. Her show at Big Medium in 2019 integrated hand-dug clay from various locations across the Southwest, from superfund sites to casino drainage ditches. Her work addresses the longing for a deeper connection with place and the systemic negation of place in contemporary commercial culture.