36 Shots of Pikes Peak
In 2014 I was invited to participate in 36 Views of Pikes Peak at the UCCS Gallery of Contemporary Art—a show which aimed to reinterpret Hokusai’s print series, 36 Views of Mount Fuji, with a Colorado Springs focus. For my contribution I decided to play with the idea of souvenir shot-glasses of the Pikes Peak region and riff off of Hokusai’s depictions of quotidian life of the Edo period in Japan. Instead of fishermen and shipbuilders, my 36 Shots of Pikes Peak focus on the Springs’ local economy.
In 2013, The Colorado Springs Business Alliance webpage had a PDF list of 87 different local defense and aerospace contractors. I looked up their addresses on Google Street View (Google Earth itself is a product of a CIA contract), situated each image so that Pikes Peak was in the background, printed out screen shots, and hand painted each image in underglaze onto small cups I threw on a potter’s wheel.
I thought we might all take a look, metaphorically and literally, at our surroundings in the Springs. With its backdrop of Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain, the region is simultaneously beautiful and precarious. What does it mean to our community and our nation that so much of our “defense” is provided by private contractors with federal funding? Contracts come and go, migrant ex-military workers are hired and laid off, companies change addresses and names regularly. Our “Purple Mountain Majesty” contrasts the parking lots and banal office parks of the industry. The impact on our town is so normal it’s almost invisible. I did a few shots to remind us, or to help us forget.
Some process shots below, for scale reference and to get an idea of how I work. All of the shots are hand thrown and the images are hand-painted on the unfired shots using black underglaze. I then bisque fire the cups, use wax resist on the images and apply clear glaze to the entire cup -- minus the image-- in order to protect the detail.