In 2003, I began collecting, preserving, and sewing peels from oranges that my family and I consumed. I was infatuated with the warmth, color, and odor of the fruit. In 2007, I started collecting fruit peels and coconuts shells from friends and strangers, while other peels were collected from local restaurants and from a yoga studio. The discarded fruit skins and coconut shells appeal to me because independent of their protective function, these materials have sculptural potential. By stitching peels together, I could stretch the potential of color, texture, and form to create skin sculptures absent of a body.  My process of accumulating and conserving the peels is both a metaphorical way of preserving relationships and a marker of the passage of time.

    In 2012 I was a Fulbright scholar in Italy and since then I have been studying the cultural and agricultural significance of craft and oranges in Italian culture, a project entitled “The Alchemical Orange.” This conceptual interest is artistically manifested in my project as I have been pushing the material potentialities of orange peels and citrus peels in general by applying ancient, ecologically sound Italian vegetable tanning based processes to the rinds in order to create a new type of leather that in turn creates a new visual language that compliments my research. The use of the orange for my project is not random nor is it simply derived from whimsy or an appreciation of citrus fragrance. Rather, the orange has a remarkable history in Italian culture that cannot be denied and can be seen everywhere in its architecture and horticulture; has been situated at the forefront of Italian history—especially during the Renaissance—; symbolically speaks to a number of issues and concerns present in Italian life both past and contemporaneously; generally charts the westward movement of human society across the globe from Asia to the Western world. I see the orange as one of the most important living artifacts in the world, representative of transformation, time, value, an imprint of humanity at its best and its worst and the long historical trail we’ve left in our wake as we’ve built and destroyed, creating traces as fast as we attempt to erase them. If there has ever been a “trace” of human civilization left scattered across the planet, it is, with certainty, the orange and its many peels.

    During the 14th century Italian Renaissance oranges—rare, expensive, and nearly inedible objects reserved mainly for the elite class as a symbol of wealth, success, prominence, and strength—were only grown for ornamentation and were reflected in the Florentine architecture, gardens, and art that the Medici’s supported, all of which can still be seen today albeit in a degraded sort of way. From the very beginning, they were indicators of status or intent and markers of identity. Revealing change and development over succeeding centuries, the fruit decreased in value cross-culturally as it became ubiquitous and commoditized, becoming a generic fruit one could acquire at any market in any city in any country in the world for a mere pittance. This change of value over time is a history that is only present in its vestigial remains, i.e. what the orange once was, what it signified, and what it still signifies, and what it could be once repurposed. All of aforementioned things function like fossils of the orange’s past as it relates to its position in the hierarchical system of human values. In my presented work, I have combined my research of Italian Renaissance gardens with my observations of what the orange in Italy means today.




    For my orange peel installations, orange is both an object and a color, simultaneously concrete and abstract. Similarly, I de-familiarize the initial object of the orange into an orange colored textile by stitching the peels together. Through the process of reworking the rinds, the essential characteristics of the initial object are apparent, but almost unrecognizable in the final form. The orange peel textiles I create engage all the senses rather than privileging sight to accentuate how we experience the world through our bodies. I invite the “viewers” to become “sensers” to fully engage their bodies through experiencing art. My intention is that the “sensers” will be transformed like the orange peel material I work with.
    For my Gestalt of a Crate installation, I recontextualize recycled black plastic crates into almost unrecognizable maze-like and cityscape-suggesting forms in order to reference through notions of the container some of the most essential needs for survival including environmental wellbeing, shelter, and food. The crate is the container of produce. This connection with agriculture reinforces the integral link with the Earth and its cycles of death and rebirth as one of the most fundamental ecological processes. The human and architectural scale of the installation refers to both the body and architecture as “human” containers inserted into each other like a game of Chinese boxes that then go into the life container par excellence, i.e. the World, which is itself a fragile container that is in danger now more than ever. By cutting, reassembling and thereby altering the black plastic crates, which become small pieces that form a larger whole, I show what I define as the “gestalt” of the crates, to encourage each visitor to reflect on the role that each individual has in maintaining an “ecological” balance. Through the fragmented,magnified, and reflective labyrinth that the grid-like plastic crates, mirrors, and magnified lenses create, I urge viewers to become more conscious about and reflect upon their ecological role in necessitating a labyrinthine perceptual shift in which the contemporary obsession with excess ends and leads to a reexamination of priorities, a new conception of how materials are used and re-used, and a refocus on essential needs.


    Chance encounters with discarded materials/objects I find on the street of San Francisco reveal change and development overtime. The refuse of contemporary culture, useful within society at a particular moment, decrease in value overtime because its now scrap, its over used, or its out-dated. Using the objects innate history, form, and function as a point of departure, I reformulate its identity, reintroducing it to the world with either no practical or logical function. Sometimes the objects I find are literally used, while other times they inspire material investigations. What was once waste becomes revalued to comment on issues of sustainability and the tension between convenience and inconvenience to promote a deceleration through personal labor, human interactions, or monotonous performances.


    The Site-Specific work including, White Diamonds, Azulejo from a Chair, Brancoejo from a Chair, and The Space between the Azulejo and Brancoejo from a Chair, are works that I made while an artist in residence at DE LICEIRAS 18 in Oporto, Portugal. The theme of the residency was the house in which the residence lived. My goal for the project was to bring the outside, inside in order to dismantle and reconsider notions of public and private space. This project draws from the range of tile work in the city and well as the historical blue paintings drawn on white tiles, known as azulejo.