The Canyon as Home
In my work I use drawing as a method to record experiences. For this artwork, I have created over forty small drawings in a site-specific installation that reflects my relationship with the residents of the Canyon, an inactive landfill located just outside of Tijuana, Mexico. A patchwork of houses, yards, fences, and streets pattern the hillsides of the former dump. With this landscape in mind, I have installed dozens of framed drawings and collages depicting daily life in the Canyon against the backdrop of a massive paper mâché and cardboard mountain. The variety of colors, sounds and smells in the Canyon are conflicting as they are both typical of home: cooking and laundry, as well as a garbage dump: waste and decay. This dichotomy makes the Canyon both strangely beautiful and hauntingly ugly.
My feelings towards the Canyon are equally conflicted. I love the beauty of the place, the individuals with whom I have developed close relationships, and the way they live their lives so openly and honestly. At the same time, I am frustrated by the lack of resources available to residents, feel helpless confronted with the rampant disease and hunger, hate the injustice of the poverty experienced in the community. The installation reflects these feelings. The scale of the piece aims to make the viewer feel small; powerless when confronted with the size of the Canyon and the challenges faced by its residents. Simultaneously, framed drawing of everyday life: laundry, cooking stoves and houses, highlight the normalcy of life in the Canyon. They reflect the manner in which residents have transformed the landscape from garbage dump into home. The frames elevate the concepts they illustrate by insinuating that the images are important. Through my work, I hope to draw attention to a region that is largely ignored by the public, and provide a platform from which residents and I may collaborate in telling the story of this meaningful place.
Morgan Hughes '15
Advisor: Amber Kempthorn, Art and Pamela Frese, Sociology/Anthropology
All images copyright © 2014-15 Morgan Hughes. All rights reserved.

Socks. Tempera, pen. 3" x 6". 2014.

Laundry Line. Charcoal, pen, pencil, photo. 6.5”  x  4.5”. 2015.

Neighborhood. Cardboard, pen, photograph. 5" x 6"  2014.

Laundry. Watercolor, pen. 9.5” x 9.5”. 2014.

Walking to School. Tempera, pen. 6.5" x 4.5". 2014.

 Installation. 2015.

 Installation. 2015.

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