The drawings that Danica Phelps has created for Many Drops Fill a Bucket record the experiences that she and her son, Orion, shared together during trips to California and India earlier this year. On both trips they camped near the coast and spent time each day cleaning the beaches and gathering trash. At the end of their daily outings, they brought the trash back to their campground, cleaned it, and assembled it into small, intimate sculptures, which they photographed. Throughout each trip the sculptures were auctioned off on Facebook and the funds raised were donated to a variety of grassroots, non-profit organizations that are helping to clean the oceans, cut animals free from ghost fishing gear, develop sustainable fishing practices, prevent climate change, and support refugees who are traveling via the ocean in search of a better life.
Executed in elegant pencil lines and combining a unique blend of abstraction and figuration organized within a conceptual framework, Phelps’ drawings meticulously catalogue rituals both quotidian and intimate and track their daily expenses, including the money raised through the auctions on social media. The exhibition includes an installation of original drawings and sculptures created by the artist after she returned to her Northampton, MA, studio using the excess trash collected in California and India. All of the original drawings and their “generations” will be available for purchase; funds generated from the sale of the small sculptures will be donated to non-profit organizations.
In addition, the exhibition will present a selection of drawings created from a trip to Puerto Rico in 2007, including the last remaining five-foot section of an original 30-foot scroll-drawing and more recent “generations” traced from the original that was a fundraiser for the island’s recovery after Hurricane Maria.
Danica Phelps uses the medium of drawing to painstakingly document every aspect of her daily life as an artist, in a system that becomes increasingly layered and complex. Phelps engages with issues such as the creation of value, or the structures of the art market, by laying bare her costs of living down to the last dollar—and by creating works that in turn deal with her own economic situation. In this exhibition, she extends her interests to the global sphere. Each drawing is a depiction of a daily activity and documentation of a financial transaction, and each dollar is represented by a single stripe of watercolor: green for income, red for expense, and grey for credit.
Danica Phelps has participated in more than 38 solo exhibitions and 60 group exhibitions, many in public institutions. Her work has been reviewed in the New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, Time Out New York and the LA Times. She lives and works between Massachusetts and Brooklyn, NY.