Gail Rothschild

Monument at Chesterwood

1996

This piece is not a monument. It is a representation that brings together two different approaches to marking significant places. People punctuate the landscape with various gestures and for various reasons. Where culture and place intersect we create repositories for collective memory.


Mackintosh Macbeth

1995

Set Design for a production of Macbeth at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival and based on the design of the 19th c Scottish architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.


The Nature of New York

1994

Out of the Mugwort and Queen Anne's Lace, ubiquitous weeds of New York City lots, we carved out The Nature of New York. This project challenges New Yorkers to see all plants in our urban environment – cultivated and wild – in a new way. Pernicious weeds or hardy pioneers? “I call them New York plants,” says one of the community gardeners, “because they are so tough!”

Muted Belles

1994

Situated in a public plaza in front of the university gallery, Muted Belles is a monument to women of Memphis. The structure refers to Southern neo-classical plantation architecture but also to monuments based on the Greek temple which usually celebrate the achievements of men. Wrapped around the classical columns are shapes that are a cross between bells and hoop skirts. Bells may ring to celebrate or to warn, these bells/belles are muted by a historical record that ignores them.

Margaret Bourke-White Photographs The Flats

1993

During the late 1920s Margaret Bourke-White, who would later become Life Magazine's star photojournalist, took pictures of the thriving steel industry in The Flats, Cleveland's industrial zone. In those years before The Depression and before World War II, The Machine still represented the promise of a bright and modern future. And photography was the perfect medium with which to explore the wonders of the new technology: The Machine looking at The Machine.

Earth Women

1992–1993

An installation illuminating Western Civilization’s disempowerment of the female’s fertile body and mind. Earth Women is composed of earthen images of female figures adhered to multiple panels of sheet metal. These panels, suspended from the ceiling, shield an inner chamber with five life-sized earth covered sculptures of hanging female nudes in various stages of pregnancy. Earth and steel formulate an interrelationship that represents the polarities of nature/industry, male/female.

Woman in the 19th Century

1992

Woman In The Nineteenth Century is the title of Margaret Fuller's feminist manifesto. Although an important member of the Transcendentalist Group and editor of their journal, The Dial, Fuller is less well-known than her male colleagues and Concord residents Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau and Bronson Alcott. The deCordova Museum is located near Concord where Fuller and Emerson spent many hours locked in Transcendental debate...

Rubber Union

1992

Commissioned by the University of Akron: For most of the 20th Century the name Akron has been synonymous with rubber. Goodyear, Goodrich, Firestone and other tire manufacturers were located in Akron. The Rubber Workers in Akron set the standard for industrial unions when they organized in the 1930’s. In the last decades of the 20th century most of the tire companies moved their plants to non-union southern states. Akron, like so many rust belt cities, struggles through a post-industrial identity crisis...

People From Off

1992

During the 1830s, thousands of Cherokee, Choctaw and other Eastern Native American peoples were forcibly removed from their homes and marched along the “Trail of Tears” to Oklahoma; the trail passed directly through Little Rock, where this installation took place. During World War II Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps. Two of these were located in Arkansas. Members of the community responded strongly to these images of refugees and cages with stories about Slavery, the Rural Exodus, Native American Ancestors and many others.

Plowshares Into Swords

1991

The Bible says: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares…” Historically, we have accepted that as an act of improvement. However, environmental degradation caused by current agricultural practice should make us rethink this. Plowshares, carelessly used, have now become swords against the earth.

Peace Mandala

1991

On January 15, 1991, I spent the day in the window of East Harlem's Food Stamp Gallery where I dribbled rice, corn and beans – typical foods in this Hispanic community – into the shape of a classic Tibetan mandala. As I worked, people gathered to discuss this celebration of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace in the face of the impending Gulf War.

Monument (to a) Mountain

1991

At his estate, Chesterwood (Stockbridge, MA), in the early 20th century, Daniel Chester French sculpted monuments of white men such as the Lincoln Memorial for Washington, D. C. French had his studio built with a scenic view of Monument Mountain. He probably knew something about the mountain having been named for a famous Indian mound of stones at its base. He may even have known local romantic legend which calls the stones a “monument” to an Indian maiden’s suicide for thwarted love. In this installation, a pathway of crushed marble curves down a slope at Chesterwood, virtually connecting French’s studio and the mountain. Four gateways of woven branches punctuate its length. The gateways frame the studio in one direction and the mountain in the other.

Hot Spot

1991

A “Hot Spot” is a site so contaminated with an infectious agent that it must be completely and permanently sealed off. The gift of blankets infected with Smallpox devastated a Native American population that had no resistance to the white man's disease. On twenty cots of steel and canvas lie figures made of hay and red clay. These figures are covered with wool blankets on which are stenciled in white the names of various diseases that the United States Military has researched for their potential use in biological warfare.

Hay People

1989–1991

Rough-sawn cedar benches are grouped to form an open rectangle, which nearly fills the cave-like basement space. Seated around the bench and facing inward are forty huddled figures of hay. On the lap of each lies a drawing – an extremely intimate self-portrait – bound with cord to a block of wood. To view each drawing one must peer, voyeuristically, over the shoulder of the hay person who holds it.

Souvenirs of Nature

1990

The first room one enters contains a case with natural science artifacts from the Museum’s early years. Zoological specimens, minerals, and shells, all culled from Nature, are displayed on a pedestal under a plexiglass bonnet. The neighboring chamber reveals a stark cabinet, the base built up with bricks. The contents of this case include examples of man-made objects – primitive tools and utensils, suggestions of cultures past.

Burning the Jungle

1990

Images of Amazon rainforest animals and plants based on the paintings of the Tikuna and other indigenous rainforest peoples, back-lit with red and amber light – the rainforest on fire.

Gaia/Mother Earth

1988

Designed for a community garden, a twelve-foot-long face rises from the earth and rock, its profile formed by climbable steps. Gaia’s hair – circular terraces of recycled brick cleared from the garden – wraps around the wood structure and is planted with 25 varieties of medicinal herbs.

A Room of One Zone

1988

An apartment tower with nine chambers on each of the 8 floors - no doors or windows. Each room contains a single wooden chair, suggesting solitary scribblers inhabiting the blank white pages of their monastic cells.

The Moon Also Rises

1987

A truncated pyramid formed by four sections, which, combined, creates chambers to walk through and windows to frame the landscape beyond.

Fallout Shelter

1987

A solid bunker that can’t be entered for shelter or safety, the viewer must walk around and through the piece to complete the experience, sighting through the open shapes to observe an imaginary astronomical starscape.

What We Left Behind

1986

Post-apocolyptic scene of carcasses and crab-like creatures - all that might remain in a nuclear winter. Hand-crafted wooden boats hang over the ruins of an urban landscape, evoking spaceships and a celestial Noah’s Ark departing on a journey to new places.

Secret Places

1986

A meditation on the nature of rock and paper; two architectural forms, an angled wall and columnar tower, create an intimate interior space. A prow of crumbled newspaper held in place with chicken wire (inspired by stone retaining walls on the sides of highways) conceals an inner 'secret place' for the viewer to explore as they move through the installation.

Three Arches

1984

A futuristic fantasy come true. “Three Arches” is a set for a primal ritual of birth, love, death or the seasons or of being a woman.