Samantha’s work

Book Stacks – Assignment One

A few weeks ago, while giving a tour of the U of G campus, I ended up getting lost in the library. As I searched for the exit, I ended up in the basement of the library – a place I always found myself too nervous to enter previously. I wandered the space and curiously approached the bookshelves. The basement is home to lots of government publications and periodicals with topics ranging from natural resources to psychological journals to food consumption. I found this collection extremely interesting due to the richness of its history, as well as the feeling of loneliness that accompanied it. The sign-out cards hint that most of this collection of literature has not been touched in years – decades even. For these reasons I chose to isolate the basement of the library as my first focus for the bookstack assignment. 

My process started with finding an area that would be suitable for photos, while also not bothering any students who may be working in the space. After I found a spot to set up, I browsed several shelves of text, and picked out titles that I thought sounded interesting. I found it much easier to work with books that had short titles compared to longer titles, so as I returned to the shelves to pick out more books I tried to focus on titles one to three words long. 

For the weather component I found titles that were organized based on season. I find it interesting how seasons and weather are a telling sign of the passage of time, yet also highlight the cyclical nature of time itself. Even the university uses seasons to express the passage of time from one semester to another, while also bringing to light the cyclical nature of a school setting.

The equipment that I used to take my photos included a DSLR camera borrowed from the Univeristy, as well as a ringlight that I brought from home. It was fun to play around with the camera settings and lighting, and I think in the end I got several usable photos. I am not very experienced with photography, but as I started to get used to the camera settings I found that my images came out much better than I inticipated. There is certainly a huge learning curve when it comes to using a DSLR in comparison to a simple point-and-shoot camera, but the payoff is very evident.

Stack #1Wordplay/Poetry

My first book stack was an attempt at a rhyming poem

Stack #2Framing

Stack #3Mood/Atmosphere/Lighting

Library/Camera Comparison – Personal Bookshelf

Stack A – What’s in a Name

Stack B – Wordplay

Stack C – Forecast Pattern

Re-shoot with DSLR

Walk in the Arboretum

During the walk in the Arboretum I really wanted to challenge myself to take high quality images with my phone camera.

Round Things



White balance – cloudy vs sunny settings



b. 1980, New York City

Jenny Kendler is an ‘ecological’ artist and activist who is credited with work that focuses on climate change and biodiversity loss. She is passionate about otherness and the de-centreing of humans in a more-than-human world – a common theme in the work she produces. Kendler tends to make sculptural representations of thought provoking ecological subject matter using materials that are reclaimed and repurposed. She has also used organic mediums like bones and fossilized genetic material of endangered species in her work, and prompts discussion surrounding extinction and what we currently stand to lose.

Amber Archive (2018-ongoing)

Amber Archive is a project that started in 2018 and is still in progress. The piece is composed of amber nodules that contain a piece of genetic material (fur, leaf, bone, scale, feather, insect wing) of a species that is currently endangered. The piece acts as an analog genetic time capsule that will preserve the DNA of a species for millennia, and outlast cyrobanks that rely on energy.

Forget Me Not (2020)

vintage boombox

in the late 18th & 19th cen. “Sailor’s Valentines” – elaborate mosaics more w colourful seashells – were popular gifts given by those returning from long oceanic voyages

contained messages “think of me, when far away”, “forget me not”

vintage boombox covered in shells – love letter to the sea

acidification of the ocean, linked to burning fossil fuels and climate change

boombox plays a vintage tape labeled “soothing ocean sounds: recorded over by the artist with ‘the sound of ocean acidification’ – miccing one of the artist’s baby teeth while it dissolves in acid

Whale Balls (2019-ongoing)

ombre glass, Miocene-era fossilized whale ear bones

1985 moratorium on commercial whaling was finally enacted, but only 5% of humpbacks remained

populations since recovering, but other threats such as commercial shipping noise, fossil fuel seismic exploration and military sonar

Humpback’s unique sonic culture and future survival of species are jeopardized by the acoustic pollution of our oceans. 

bells clappers are Miocene Epoch fossilized ear bones: tympanic bullae from an ancient species of rorqual whale related to modern humpbacks

the part of the ear which once received sound, now creates a new fragile resonance, a mournful echo, a ghost knell-suggesting a message from these long extinct whales to today’s endangered whales

Shroud for an Atheist (2020)

digitally printed silk textile, Textile Cone (Conus textile) shell

Conus textile is a species of marine snail with a beautiful patterned shell known as the Textile Cone or Cloth of Gold Cone

they are infact predatory, venomous mollusks with toxins deadly to huans

collage of digital images of the shell’s patterns to create a textile 

presented atop a burial mound of sand, likeness of a shroud

whose death are we to lament? – the patterns of Conus textile recall cellular automata

Conway’s Game of Life or Wolfram’s Rule 30 

  • computational models said to prove that complex design and intelligent organization can arise in the absence of a “designer”

Heirloom (in private collection)


amorphous hydrated silicon oxide – technically a precious gemstone opal 

seeds also contain high concentration of carbon-14, making them useful for archeological radiocarbon dating – a valuable technology used by archeologists and paleobotanists to date prehistoric sites – which may be endangered due to the ancient carbon released into the atmosphere where we burn fossil fuels

fear in science community that radiocarbon dating will no longer be viable as early as 2030 – yet another infrequently mentioned threat of climate change

Mending Wall (2021-2024)

collaborative project with the public, Kendler and the Field Museum’s Pandemic Collections Team, with support from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE)

drawing on the American vernacular form of the stone wall – Mending Wall offers a space to honor our collective grief – and share individual hopes and fears in the moment of intersecting crises

global pandemic, gun violence epidemic, the worsening climate crisis, and interrelated struggle for racial justice

piece inspired by Robert Frost’s classic poem, Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea novels and the artist’s childhood visit to the Wailing Wall

25 ft fragment of dry-stacked stone wall made of reclaimed Chicago cobble stone

surrounding wall is natural area of perennial plants and organic stone seating to provide space for contemplation and appreciation of the natural world

wall as something that keeps us apart, as well as how we the people can constitute form, building city stone by stone

public invited to leave a message from this moment of crisis to be archived by the Pandemic Collactions team at the Field Museum

Public events held in the space, including guided meditations, dance performances, poetry readings and mending workshops