phase shift (wattling), by Martha Russo, is made from wattles which are normally used to control sediment and erosion at construction sites, newly landscaped areas, or flood mitigation. Wattles are made by stuffing tubes of plastic netting or biodegradable cloth with hay or shredded aspen trees.
Following the 2013 flood in Boulder County, Russo was inspired by the “intriguing mass” of wattles she observed piled alongside the road and firmly staked into the ground during the reconstruction of Jamestown Canyon, northwest of Boulder. The concept behind this new installation is to free the wattles from their normally earthbound fate and give them a whimsical lightness and movement.
The title references the scientific process of phase change, which is a conversion of matter from one state to another: i.e. solids to liquids, liquids to gas. Here, the aspen trees began as solid objects which were shredded, adding air. The shredded matter further changed phase during installation, floating in the air with unexpected freedom.
Audio by Hossein Forouzandeh, for the Galleries of Contemporary Art at UCCS, 2023.