Salt Licks 2000 - 22 1999- 2004. A body of work broken in to several different angles and approaches. It was initially centered on me trying to make art while doing as little as possible, in lessening the authorship or the amount of hands-ons it takes to make an artwork. Truth was, I was working full-time and needed to have my art-making look after itself. My goal was to be "hands-off". Not long after the idea, a memory of me as a boy working on a farm came to mind, and that work entailed many thing, one being giving salt to the horses. And so I investigated.
Na- Sodium Chloride (salt)- excess leads to hypertension or heart disease. Causes a loss of potassium to be lost in the urine. Aids in nerve and muscle functioning.
Urine – waste material that is secreted by the kidney, is rich in end products of protein, metabolism together with salts and pigments, and forms a clear amber and usually slightly acid fluid in mammals.
Potassium- works with sodium to regulate the body’s water balance /helps dispose of the body’s waste and assists in sending oxygen to the brain.
Cobalt- a mineral which is part of B12, is essential for red blood cells / prevents anemia (too much can enlarge thyroid gland).
Copper – converts the body’s iron to hemoglobin; aids in the pigmenting of hair and skin.
Chlorine - regulates blood alkaline- aids in digestion; prevents loss of hair and teeth. Iodine – influences the thyroid, controls weight and mental reaction time, promotes growth. (Craving salt can indicate a thyroid iodine deficiency). H20 – water- the major constituent of all living material.
I began working with saltlicks in 1998. My first insight into the chosen medium was discovered while carrying individual saltblocks (over 1 ton in total) into my studio, all during a heat wave in June of that year. I carried each block up a flight of stairs and not surprisingly, started sweating profusely. As straightforward as this might sound, It came as a very physical experience… carrying salt while sweating, was a physical, but even more metaphysical. I wiped my brow and tasted the salt that poured off it. At that moment I decided to explore the functionality of salt as an absolute necessity to a continuation of our existence – biologically and geologically. Salt has been mined for a thousand years. Its relationship to the health of mankind is essential and historically, its relationship to world economics has been enormous. The Romans used it as currency for its soldiers and the Egyptians used it as an essential ingredient for embalming. Greeks used it to line ceramic containers that preserved food (and so invented edible olives). With out it, food of all kinds would not be sustainable. Countries have been won and lost over salt. My artistic interest in salt is not to trace its history (author Mark Kurlansky’s best-selling novel entitled Salt does it far better than I could). The varied elements found in saltblocks for animals are akin to a multi-vitamin - in that they contain trace minerals. The blue licks contain cobalt, the brownish ones contain iron oxide, others are trace mineral. White saltlicks are stand-alone salts. What I am able to achieve in working with saltlicks is integrate the history of salt with a type of entropic approach of sculpture making. The methods range from animals (licking), the erosion achieved through weather; I’ve used lakes and the Atlantic ocean (tide, water-dissolving), as well as ‘humans’ (gunfire, hydrochloric acid, pressure washer) that allow natural process in a collaborative manner. The medium of salt contains histories and various types of erosion create an exchange of natural resources (via licking, tides, etc.) between the land, the sea and between animals (humanity). Deficiencies in salt are critical, in most every way.