rowing back

By design, my projects never have neat borders – they seep inward, to every corner of my personal life, and outward, seeking connection with abstract political and social theories. Over the seven years that I’ve worked on Rowing Back, I’ve included imagery of rowers and rowing into my drawings; I learned to row with a community rowing club in New Bedford (MA); I built my own boat and oars, which are covered with my handwriting in the manner of my drawings. The sport of rowing has a long association with art (think Thomas Eakins). But rowing, too, has a hard time separating itself from notions of class and privilege. So it makes sense in works of mine that are crafted out of the texts of Adam Smith and the congressional report on the financial crisis. But rowing has not always been a sport. I began working on Rowing Back by thinking about my great-great-great-great grandfather, who worked as a caulker in a shipyard in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. He died during a winter storm after being blown out to sea in a small rowboat while working to help a ship get safely into harbor. He was found the next morning frozen solid; his hands lacerated and his oars shattered from his efforts to row against a storm and get back home. My rowing drawings are informed by that story – and by my own experience trying to learn about his death by learning to row on the body of water where he died. The video below is a teaser, using some of the footage I shot while I worked on this project between 2012 and 2019.


video (teaser for project in production):

selected drawings with rowing imagery: