The Great Eraser


The Great Eraser utilizes the poetic action of systematically destroying a nearly 400-year old tree ring as a symbol of broader environmental destruction. Every day The Great Eraser  sands away the tree rings in a one-decade increment and places the resulting sawdust into a vial made of hand-smithed scrap steel and reclaimed glassware. Humans’ shortsighted and insatiable utilization of natural resources results in the tragic and unstoppable ruin of the natural world.  The Great Eraser is an agent of this reality. But he also embodies a certain reverence for the remains of this destruction. The Great Eraser carefully collects the “ashes” of erasure and saves them in these specially created urns—for posterity, contemplation, memorialization, and forgiveness.

A ritualistic incongruity pervades The Great Eraser’s actions as he destroys, collects, preserves, and then destroys again. This acts as an analogy for continued exploitation of the natural world, which coexists with our increasingly detailed understanding of this fact, and the nostalgic reverence we hold for the ecosystems we obliterate.

The Great Eraser (detail)
The Great Eraser (detail)

Pine tree cross section, hand-smithed scrap steel, reclaimed glassware, cork, digital video, video projection, acrylic paint, coveralls, boots, rolling stool, wooden tool box, various hand tools. Dimensions Variable Special thanks to the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona for materials and information that contributed to this work. "Any opinions expressed or interpretations derived from The Great Eraser do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Labo

The Great Eraser (sanding detail)
The Great Eraser (sanding detail)
The Great Eraser (sanding detail)
The Great Eraser (sanding detail)
The Great Eraser (sweeping detail)
The Great Eraser (sweeping detail)
The Great Eraser (funneling detail)
The Great Eraser (funneling detail)
The Great Eraser (sconce detail)
The Great Eraser (sconce detail)

Hand-smithed scrap steel, reclaimed glassware, cork

The Great Eraser (sconce detail)
The Great Eraser (sconce detail)

Hand-smithed scrap steel, reclaimed glassware, cork

The Great Eraser (sconce detail)
The Great Eraser (sconce detail)

Hand-smithed scrap steel, reclaimed glassware, cork

The Great Eraser (sconce detail)
The Great Eraser (sconce detail)

Hand-smithed scrap steel, reclaimed glassware, cork

The Great Eraser (sconce detail)
The Great Eraser (sconce detail)

Hand-smithed scrap steel, reclaimed glassware, cork

The Great Eraser (tree ring detail)
The Great Eraser (tree ring detail)
The Great Eraser (detail)
The Great Eraser (detail)
The Great Eraser (detail)
The Great Eraser (detail)
The Great Eraser (detail)
The Great Eraser (detail)

Hand-smithed scrap steel, reclaimed glassware, cork