Public art piece for Atlas Architects and the C-9 development depicting 10,000 Years of Labor in Utah. Co-designed by Christian England and fabricated by Creative Services Bureau.
Atlas Architects approached me and my company CSB about creating a large art piece for the side of their new commercial development in Salt Lake City. All of us being big Lefties, after several discussions we hit on the theme of 10,000 years of labor in Utah. With my friend and collaborator Christian England I set out to develop a timeline and a narrative.
From the first human habitation 10,000 years ago to the modern age, we selected many of the notable moments, good and bad in the long human effort to build Utah's society. We used the bar grate background to represent a time line, bloodlines and even the active geology of the state. On top of that we added a steel plate layer of representational images. And with the plate we added assemblage boxes collecting the tools of the trade of the depicted characters.
At the top left are the first Europeans to traverse the state in the form of Spanish explorers with their muskets and swords. In the center the solitary trapper with his traps and gun.
Images begin to cluster together as history became noisier and more cluttered with the arrival of the Mormon settlers, the railroad and the industrialization and extraction of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Utah's unknown first inhabitants left behind a campsite at Danger Cave at least 11,000 years ago. Christian England represented them as ghostly figures seen through the haze of time like people seen through the distorting heat waves of the hard desert plane.
The box for industrialization and extraction looms over the figure of a miner and labor activist Mother Jones who joined striking miners in Price and Helper. To the right the order and repetition of the World War II box represents the massive mobilization of labor and materials of that period.
Labor organizer Joe Hill's portrait is accompanied by a box with the five rifles used in his execution by the State of Utah in 1915. The heart represents the paper target the state pined to his shirt for the firing squad.
I am very grateful to Atlas Architects, the RDA, and my amazing crew at Creative Services Bureau who fabricated and installed this custom art piece.