OCTOBER 15 - DECEMBER 10, 2010
'Lamp' takes the form of historic lantern representations that hang from the poles of Cosign Projects in St. Louis, Missouri. The representational lanterns echo the basic design of tin whale oil burning lanterns used in the late 18th century and into the 19th century in Europe and New England, an era of expansion, growth and settlement for the British colonists in North America that was aided greatly by the illuminating and lubricating capabilities of whale oil. Before the transition to kerosene and natural gas in the latter half on the 19th century, most lamps were lit using whale oil, a product of the whaling industry, which in itself instigated and powered the move to an oil (and later petroleum) based society.
The expansion and settlement westward in North America from New England is marked significantly by the expedition of Lewis and Clark following the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, which began upstream from St. Louis, Missouri. By focusing on a light source, a lantern, or a tool vital to this period of exploration, development, and change, I have attempted to imagine, from California, what individuals were using at the turn of the 19th century in the U.S., and particularly St. Louis. The representational lanterns hang from Cosign as a relevant, however oblique reference to St. Louis history, but also more broadly as one of the most basic tools in human culture, originating from animal fat soaked and ignited shells in 70,000 B.C., which led to the ability to create long-lasting light through the burning of oil. Oil, particularly whale oil, burning lamps allowed people to organize systems of living, elongate the day, and discover what was previously unseen.
As both cause and effect, the lamp is both an ever-changing invention and enabler of human progress and discovery of course prior to and during the growth and expansion of the United States, as well as the process of the Industrial Revolution, which ran concurrently as Lewis and Clark moved west.
I envision the lanterns of 'Lamp' to function as light sources for the building, but also appear as odd representations from history that hang as memorials to the time of pivotal change from which their image was taken from. In an effort to reflect the history of progress and its complex legacy, considering the recent BP oil spill to the south of St. Louis, it is impossible to not consider the lanterns of 'Lamp' as representational artifacts that lead up to our current oil dependent way of living.
The representational lanterns, however, gain their light from an adapted solar panel taken from a contemporary household garden light, as opposed to an oil source, making them hybrid tools that attempt to also look forward.
For more information on Carrie Hott’s work, visit Sit Still with Carrie Hott.
Carrie Hott is an interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in Oakland, California. Born in Fort Collins, Colorado, she grew up in Phoenix and received her B.F.A. from Arizona State University in 2003 before moving to the bay area where she received her M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2007. Her work has been exhibited at galleries and non-profits in Arizona, Germany, the UK, and most recently at Southern Exposure, and Adobe Backroom Gallery in San Francisco, CA and Cosign Projects in St. Louis, MO. Hott has completed artist residencies at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina and Artstation in Rostock, Germany. In October 2010, Hott will be the artist-in-residence at the Philadelphia Art Hotel in Philadelphia, PA. In addition to co-directing the Royal NoneSuch Gallery, an alternative art and community event space in Oakland, Carrie currently works at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and has taught in the community education and undergraduate departments at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Carrie Hott in her Oakland, California studio