Zoë Erickson is an artist and photographer from Helena, Montana. She photographs the scenes and characters of her surroundings, and her work is suggestive of uneasy moments and indefinite emotions. Erickson explores the relationship between the individual and the whole by combining original work with appropriations, drawing heavily from her vernacular experiences and references to the surrounding culture. Erickson is currently a student of photography at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.
Vermiculite is a visual record of the visceral experience of a place, composed of the shifting figures that appear out of the haze of identity-shaping memories. Through original photographs, family records, and images appropriated from people close or adjacent to the artist, it reflects the shade cast by boredom and the defiance inspired by the privilege to be witness to natural beauty in a rural locale. Vermiculite touches on the pervasiveness of alcoholism and depression, suppression and stubbornness, boredom and dull feelings and perceived isolation despite its impossibility in a globalized society. The title is in reference to both the experience of growing up in an insular community and to the material used to make home insulation that poisoned thousands of rural Montanans, including members of the artists’ own family, speaking to the scars on the collective psyche represented in literal scars on the lungs. This project is a representation of the characteristic spirit of a place as manifested in the beliefs, aspirations, and actions of its inhabitants, in some ways appealing to the pathos of tragedy and the fetishization of degeneracy, but democratized with the banal to bring it to the experienced level of the vernacular. It’s a testament to the ethos of the West and how it feels to grow up in it.
To view more of Zoë Erickson’s work please visit her website.