Olfactory Artworks:

Forty Days
2018, scent

Forty Days is inspired by the story of Noah’s Ark, one of the earliest written accounts of massive environmental catastrophe. A smoky aquatic musk, the scent evokes the anxiety of being confined to a boat full of animals, in a world full of water, unsure about when or if land will appear again. The biblical story of Noah is heavily scented, providing an outline for the fragrance's story. God told Noah to build an ark of cypress and coat it with pitch, forming the smoky and woody contour of the scent. Filling in the shape are a heavy dose of musk for the feeling of the animal-filled ark, and aquatic notes for the never-ending rain flooding the land humans, animals, and plants once called home. Noah's thankfulness to God came in the form of burnt offerings of the animals, reinforcing the birch tar's smoke at the base of the scent. Olive oil lingers throughout it all, serving as both carrier oil and a delicate note in the fragrance, providing a glimmer of the recreated world that doves will scope out after the flood, whether or not we’ll be there to see it.

Divine warnings were given then and are being given now; a dab of this scent reminds that the oceans will be coming for us soon.

Failings in Habitats
2018, installation with scent & audio components;
collaboration with Rebecca Ladida

The piece gathers audio recording of folks attempting to pronounce the names of the land on which they live in the language of the Native peoples of these territories. This installation is set in a van, which is lined with astroturf and has a scent diffused through it.

This installation addresses our failings at speaking even basic words in Native languages and translating their knowledges: their language, but also their modes of inhabiting, their relationship to the land (botany, dendrology), and their social practices. The contrast between the contemplative nook immersed in a joyful scent and the discomfort experienced in our collective failure to honor the peoples whose land we occupy exposed through the sound recordings requires that we sit with the trouble, perhaps unsettled.

The scent was my portion of the piece - it is a blend of seven different oils of trees and plants native to Illinois. The olfactory combination of river birch, white oak, sweetgum, bald cypress, wild geranium, st. johns wort, and prairie grass evokes the feeling of honoring the land we occupy, and all the peoples who have honored these plants before us. The oils were a mixture of purchased oils (sourced sustainably) and small amounts of plant matter that I distilled myself.

more olfactory art work samples coming soon!