Eye of the Archive: Art Inspired by History

I made a very talented and sweet friend recently, local artist Lara Whitley, when she came to visit me, the Archive Building, at Aspen Historical Society. Okay, maybe she wasn’t visiting just me… Lara came to Aspen Historical Society’s public archive to research and find inspiration for her latest art project, which was going to feature glass shards she found in the dirt near her home. Bright and shiny things often capture my attention too, so we hit it off right off the bat. I love new friends! As Lara told her story, I knew we’d get along famously:

While walking her dog through a meadow in her neighborhood, pieces of glass embedded in the soil piqued Lara’s curiosity and she began to wonder about the history of the land near her home and the origins of the discarded glass. Lara turned to me (okay, okay, us) here Aspen Historical Society for help. Together with the wonderful archivists team Lisa Hancock and Anna Scott, Lara embarked on a guided research effort to understand the histories of the people who may have lived or worked in the area and the land itself. The lovely ladies of the archive looked at photos, maps, BLM records, land patents, and other historical information to determine the previous owners of the land and hypothesize about the discards that Lara had discovered.

My new BFF says the research and resulting discoveries framed her artistic process. “I love the way this project connects me to the land and the stories of the locals who preceded us,” Lara said. “Lisa and Anna helped me make that connection, and ‘Homecoming’ wouldn’t be the same without their invaluable assistance and enthusiasm.”

The resulting piece, which Lara called “Homecoming” features the glass bits strung together, like birds on a wire, in a 3-D outline in the shape of a house. It’s…it’s just WOW. That BFF of mine is creative! Lara describes it as a “site-specific installation of foraged glass,” saying the piece “digs into both the history of our community and the zeitgeist of our time: throwaway culture.”

   

The piece is on display just down the road in at the Launchpad in Carbondale in the month of September, so you can see it for yourself!

With admiration for my new friend and her creative use of my archives,
A.B.
(Archive Building)

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