Maine artist Susan Smith created a carpet of birdseed
at an abandoned Home Depot
A Home Depot big box store in Bangor, Maine moved a couple blocks away to increase profits, leaving the huge building carcass behind. It was not maintained, except for the elaborate efforts to keep the birds out, so in 2014 when nature, decay and litter began to take hold, artist Susan Smith jumped into action with a vision.
Despite the measures to keep them away, the birds came to inhabit the site by the hundreds, and soon became her collaborators on Home Departed. Smith documented the site changes for months, including audio recordings of their songs, photos of the used needles she found on the ground and all other evidence of what life is like after a retail giant leaves a building behind in search of a greater financial profit. Smith's ongoing study and installation included a rendering of a beautiful carpet made out of 700 lbs. of bird seed and patterned after a William Morris design. Smith recorded the carpet for 100 days as birds carefully devoured the colorful pattern and humans callously burned tires to spray the seeds everywhere. In the fall, Smith also planted hundreds of bulbs as part of her ongoing guerrilla gardening efforts.
Not unlike the outspoken William Morris, this socially activated intention by Smith easily highlights the build-destroy-build-destroy mentality that mercilessly runs through the blood of human kind. She shined a gentle light on how we treat nature, art, business, and labor practices within this harmless work. In a society that currently sneers at any individual with no dollar working value, it leaves us scratching our heads as to how it has become so acceptable for a corporation to leave an utter mess in their wake, when it's us as individuals who are held in contempt for wasteful or lazy behavior on a regular basis. Also worth exploring, is the reluctance of Home Depot to at least leave it to the birds.
“History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed; art has remembered the people, because they created.”
― William Morris
photos courtesy Susan Smith
article written by: Erin Duquette
find SUSAN SMITH at:
Art, Culture, Unity and Soul