Desert Light Gallery at Kelso Depot

Prototype basket by sculptural Artist-in-Residence Mary Olin Geiger, created from salvaged copper sound cable and an unraveled thrift store sweater.

Prototype basket made from salvaged copper sound cable and an unraveled thrift store sweater

Mary Olin Geiger

Occupying Memory

Sculpture by Mary Olin Geiger
April 11, 2015 to June 30 2015

Since the turn of the last century, transcontinental railroads have promoted rail travel to national parks by producing framed prints and advertising art that depicts the beauty of these national treasures. The tradition of close ties between the railroads, art, and national parks continues at the Desert Light Gallery in Kelso Depot Visitor Center.

In Occupying Memory, Mary Olin Geiger presents sculpture and fabrics that evoke her own emotional reaction to the American desert and the basketry of native tribes from the area.

"This project has transformed and expanded over time", said Geiger. "Originally, it began as as an exploration of a particular set of Native American baskets made by the Chemehuevi tribe. I used salvaged materials to make the vessels, as e-waste and textile refuse are abundant in today's world, much like willow and other plant fibers were to native tribes. The baskets, tributes to a dwindling art practice, are still an integral part of the installation, and they are now surrounded by various sculptural elements that augment the experience.

Geiger continued, "Humans have lived in the Mojave for thousands of years and there was evidence of this history scattered across the desert floor everywhere I looked during my time there. In this piece, I examine that ongoing presence and the physical evidence left behind."

Geiger has worked primarily in theater arts and her experience includes set design, props, scenery, and fabrication. Geiger has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and Technology from Syracuse University, with a minor in Anthropology. She apprenticed in both New York and Italy, and was honored as a Syracuse University Visual and Performing Arts Scholar in 2011.

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