Contact us

Reporting from:

Chester River

Up and down the Chester River, from fresh water beaver dam to the salty Chesapeake bay

  • Foreman Branch (15"x15") a fresh water beaver dam that feeds the Chester River
  • Radcliffe Creek (24"x24") a canoe trail that flows into the Chester River
  • Eastern Neck Island (15"x15") an estuarine tidal flux between the Chester River & Chesapeake Bay

A commission for SANDBOX, a science-art studio in Chestertown, MD with support from Washington College and the Mellon Foundation.

Plexiglass containers (constructed by Dave Perry) in maple frames (crafted by Robert Ortiz)

January 2015-present

These mud-filled plexiglass frames were installed at SANDBOX from January 23 to July 18, 2015. The microbes continue to 'paint' and are in the Mann Gallery 7 years later, still growing magnificent pigments.

Littoral Chestertown - a poetic shift from what was to what is.

A partial inventory for mass balance accounting

(Input = Output + Accumulation)

I often call these elements ‘matter’ or ‘generative particles of things’ or ‘seeds of things’; and since they are the ultimate constituents of all things, another I often use is ‘ultimate particles'.

Titus Lucretius Carus, On the Nature of Things (c.55 bce)

The using everything brings us to composition and to this composition. A continuous present and using everything and beginning again.

—Gertrude Stein, Composition as Explanation (1925)

: when does a fact end:

A.R. Ammons, Garbage (1993)

In January 2015, I traveled to Chestertown, Maryland to make mud paintings. In the jumble of soil and water, I selected materials I recognized as having names. I picked up mounds of horse shit, collected jumentous wood shavings, and shoveled sand from a horse track on Stepne Manor. I unmatted pine needles decaying in a pond, found a cat’s tail (Typha latifolia), and clipped ‘invasive’ Phragmites stems into rounds. I spooned up green duck poop from a cornfield where I also gathered yellow corn kernels and a rose-colored corncob that escaped the combine last fall.

It had snowed that morning, and in the tracks of this field, underneath a shell of ice, I scooped a settling of water; I can only imagine that evaporate/condensate—now in the possession of Chestertown—came from somewhere else. I broke off stalactites of lime accreting from the abandoned sewage treatment plant, I bucketed effluent from Radcliffe Creek, and captured flow running southwest along the Chester River. Then I added some eggs (purchased at the ACME market), ground chalk (acquired from the Family Dollar store), and shredded that day’s Kent County News.

Together, these sensible things, elements, or generative particles of things were smooshed inside a plexiglass vessel and illuminated inside the SANDBOX studio. Digitally captured at discrete moments, images of photosynthesized pigment tell the shifting stories of colonizing microbes during their time of this material. Form, and form, and form.

  • Soundtrack of the above Vimeo was Composed by Aleksandra Vrebalov in reaction to living artwork produced by artist/scientist Jenifer Wightman during their 2014 - 2015 group residency at Washington College's SANDBOX Initiative.
  • Time Lapse photos taken by Sean Meade and Jenifer Wightman
  • Video editing by Araby Kelley


A deep bow to Alex Castro and Sean Meade of SANDBOX, a project of Washington College with support from the Mellon Foundation. Gratitude to my collaborators Ronit Eisenbach, Aleksandra Vrebalov, & Cassie Meador. Thanks also to Dave Perry of Precision Plastics who made the gorgeous first edition of the Plexiglass frames, Robert Ortiz for the most elegant wood frames and Araby Kelley for final video edits.

In the Press