Drawings > The Empty Quarter

This series of drawings, The Empty Quarter, began as a collaborative project with my friend and fellow artist, Nina Rossi, when we realized that both of us had spent years photographing an abandoned mill in our town.

I have watched the former Griswold Mill deteriorate over the course of 30 years. At the beginning it was a popular odd-lot discount store, Railroad Salvage. Even then the building was already neglected with rusty fire escapes, peeling paint and haphazard repairs. The regular geometry of the building became imperfect and then incomplete as it succumbed to the natural processes of growth and decomposition. Instead of an intact structure, there are now spaces surrounded by fragments of wall.

My drawings began as experiments since I had never worked with this medium, pen, at this scale and had never used architecture as a subject. In the process of drawing, I found that I could sand parts of the drawing, scratch into the paper, peel thin layers of paper using tape and then draw back into the abraded areas. Sometimes the tape ripped the paper, so I incorporated that too. The tangible surfaces of the drawings are my response to the look and feel of these remains.

Throughout this series I’ve wondered at my fascination with this building and others like it. Because I see it everyday, I am aware of its changing condition from season to season. It forces me to remember that nothing lasts, things just deteriorate at different rates. Perhaps I find beauty there because to do otherwise would be unbearable.

Pen drawing of the ruins of the former Griswold Mill (Railroad Salvage) in Turners Falls by artist Barbara Milot
Pen
30" x 30"
2014
First Wall
ink
44" x 30"
2014
Winter Vines
ink
44" x 30"
2014
Beyond the West Wall
ink
40" x 30
2015