Roots of Renewal
Faulconer Gallery, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa
6 September – 14 December 2003
My work for Roots of Renewal included 250-linear-feet of signboards, hand-painted with quotations from a 1909 handbook titled, “Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them,” by Rolfe Cobleigh. The messages alternate between practical advice and moral admonitions, such as, “never confuse board foot measure with square feet, cheerfulness is as contagious as the measles, the room in which to kill cattle and hogs should not be less than 15 feet square.”
Together with Orlan Mitchell, a retired Congregationalist minister, I built a dozen-or-so of the handy devices illustrated in the book. These include, among other things, a feed hopper, a fleece box, and a gate that won’t sag. The objects are painted the same colors as the signboards—white and farm-implement grey, green, yellow, and brown. Once the exhibit was installed, these “simple but valuable things” were scattered among the other artworks in the show, but without lighting or wall labels.
Roots of Renewal: An Exhibition and Community Partnership, Grinnel, Iowa, 2003. Faulconer Gallery, 2004.