BLOG02 : Oct. 18., 2021

One of my goals during this virtual residency is to bring you pieces of the Mojave Desert through this blog. I moved here two years ago, so in many ways the desert is still very new to me, but its influence and presence in my practice is impossible to deny. Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a national park expanding from the eastern edge of Las Vegas, the land surrounding the lake that was formed by the Hoover Dam on the border of the US states of Nevada and Arizona. In recent decades, the water level has declined to 35% capacity due to shortages from the Colorado River.

On Sunday morning, my partner and I circled the rim of what used to be the water’s edge with trash bags and work gloves, descending into ghost-depths of a once-mighty lake. When I first moved here, we would come out to Lake Mead to hike, winding through slot canyons and scrambling over red rocks. I began noticing the layers of litter here create a strata that is quite unique. There are once-submerged items reemerging after years of being sunken mixed in with sun-bleached shells and cracked earth, while new garbage and plastics clutter around plants and in washes and crevasses. I started collecting pieces of this trash for my work, but it evolved into a more intentional practice of trash clean-ups. I want to help take care of this place that has been so disturbed and altered by colonizing demands on the land.

I spent the morning collecting small pieces of trash and some of the shells to experiment with back in the studio. We also filled a few bags of garbage and disposed of them properly. I look forward to sharing what I have found with you and what becomes of the work with this fascinating material.

EMILY BUDD – TRACTOR online residency