Cookie Cutter House Project Summary

The Neighborhood 72
The Neighborhood, 2019

I began the Cookie Cutter House Project early in 2018.  Though I have long been obsessed with the image of houses and buildings in my work, the act of relocating added another aspect to my thoughts on the topic of housing and community.  I started to make paintings and artist books on the topic.  I also wrote several blog posts on topics related to housing and local culture. Then it dawned on me that it might be fun and useful to learn what other people consider to be the idea of Home

I invited many art enthusiasts to participate in an on-line exhibition. Each participant was sent a set of identical house shapes measuring approximately 9″ x 6″. Using at least one of those house shapes, the artist depicted her/his idea of What Is Home and wrote a few lines about their thoughts on the topic. Each participant’s entry was then featured on this blog.  All together, 18 artists from different parts of the US and Canada participated.  Links to the individual artist’s posts are below.

In addition to the on-line exhibition, here are links to some of the current work I created for this project. I will add more as they are available.

Here are a few blogposts related to the overall theme of this project, including very early work featuring houses and buildings.


The Local Landscape

When I moved to the south, I left behind what is known as Trash Can Snowstorms.  Now some of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about but for those of you who do not, an explanation is needed. A trash can snowstorm is when you shovel out your car and then reserve your spot with your trash cans (lawn chairs are also acceptable).  Is it illegal?  Yes.  Is it enforced? No.  Do you dare move someone’s trash cans and take the spot? Not if you value your life and your car.

trash can snow - pittsburgh post -gazette
Trash Can Snow

This is what I would call a trait of the cultural landscape; something you only see in particular geographic locations.  I now have access to a whole new group of cultural landscape imagery.  The first one I noticed here is the School Rock.  I do not know if this is a southern thing or a North Carolina thing  but it seems that all schools have a giant rock out front that is continuously painted with the name of some student highlighting something about that person:  a birthday, a sporting victory, etc.   Fortunately, my friend Erin’s son, Cooper,  just had a birthday and they photographed the rock they painted so you can see what I mean.  As you can guess, Cooper likes baseball.

School Rock, Lincoln County, NC

I am going to continue to look for new cultural landscape images but want to share a favorite one from my past life:  the sneakers on the electrical wire.  Are there cultural landscape signs where you live?  What are they?

sneakers on wire
Sneakers on Wire, Phila., PA


Installation Art

Window on Broad
Any Back Yard, 2006

Probably the first thing I should do here is describe Installation Art for readers who may have heard the term (or maybe not) but never quite knew what it was.  Installation art is a themed exhibition that takes up an entire space, is temporary, and generally is not marketable unless an institution purchases the whole installation for its permanent collection.

My first memorable experience with installation art was sometime around 1990 at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire.  My family was there visiting my mother, who had relocated there a few years earlier.  I cannot recall who the artist was or the exact message, but I do recall the work was making a statement about trees, possibly the exploitation of trees?  Anyway, I was very impressed how this artist used the medium to present a message.   A second installation that impressed me was on display at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  It was was a map of the local rivers, streams, creeks, as well as ones that no longer existed.  The map was made of glasses filled with water (or turned upside down if the waterway no longer existed). The size of the glass seemed to represent the size of the waterway.Read More »

The Origins of the Cookie Cutter House Project ~ Part 2

Mountainside Village
Mountainside Village, circa 1990s, Private collection

My work process started to include a variety of papers, many of which I made or altered by painting or printmaking techniques.  I have tried a number of different surfaces but paper remains my favorite to this day.  The satisfaction of making paper and altering the surfaces of manufactured paper resulted in my including other materials in my work such as stitching and wire.  The house and building imagery increased and also seemed to go from grand buildings (as in the cut paper work in my last post) to singular structures and small groups of less grand buildings. Other samples of this work are shown in this post.

Read More »

The Origins of the Cookie Cutter House Project ~ Part 1

Neon Nights
Neon Nights, 1989, Cut paper collage, Private collection

Houses and buildings have long been represented in my artwork.  I believe that even though certain imagery may remain in an artist’s work, the meaning of those images can change over time.  When I teach, I often refer to such imagery as personal symbols.

When I first started putting buildings in my work, it was obvious to me that it was because this was part of my everyday scenery.  I lived in a very large city and you saw row after row of houses and blocks and blocks of buildings.  This post shows some samples of my work from the late 1980s which was all made of cut paper, down to the smallest detail.  I truly believe I would not currently have the patience to work in this medium. 

Read More »