“Desires not even our own,” an eight-week exhibit by Boston multimedia artist Samantha Fields, opened Wednesday in Jamaica Plain, taking on wasteful and excessive packaging of consumer goods as well as clever, persuasive marketing that drive much of the purchasing and consumption in the world today.
“Desires not even our own” is a performative project disassembling one ton of used clothing that could not be sold even in thrift stores. It will be on display in forms changing, week to week, in storefront windows and inside at BCV’s 405 Centre St. building in Jamaica Plain over the next eight weeks.
“Have you ever bought something because of the packaging? And wondered, ‘What possessed me when I bought this?’“ said Fields. “‘Desires not even our own’ has come out of my extreme disdain for being sold to and, if I’m honest with myself, the way in which marketing can woo me.”
With this project, Fields said, she is “creating the inverse of a fast and compulsive consumer cycle, through a quietly disruptive deconstructing slowness, in turn bringing visibility to larger issues of social injustice and environmental destruction.”
Fields was invited by Mordechai Levin, founder of BCV, a Jamaica Plain real estate and development firm, to bring her art and message to the public. “This artist not only creates compelling pieces to view but also raises thoughtful questions about how we live our lives,” said Levin. “We believe this exhibition from a talented local artist should have an opportunity to bring her concepts to the public.”
She was chosen by the Boston based nonprofit Now + There to participate in its Accelerator program. “I am honored and grateful to be one of the 2019 cohorts for the Now + There Public Art Accelerator,” said Fields. “I am excited to see what new public art projects unfold in Boston over the next year.”
Fields works in materials and processes that have historically lived outside of an “art” context. “I make – slowly – with and through craft,” she said. “Making slowly is a personal act of resistance against the fast-paced, multi-tasking, product-driven world in which I find myself.”
Fields received her master’s in fine arts degree from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and her undergraduate degree from Massachusetts College of Art. Fields is currently a part-time faculty member at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts.
She said the clothing that makes up the current exhibit “is a physical representation of material resources, the unseen labor of its makers, and a stand-in for our emotional person.”
Fields said her work not only addresses “our own disconnection to ourselves, our needs, and our wants” but also recognizes workers who labor in unfair and dangerous situations. In particular, she noted the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911, a U.S. tragedy that killed 146 people, and the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh, which killed 1,127 people. “We have merely moved the injustice elsewhere and increased it,” she said.
The exhibit also calls attention to use of natural resources, including “the 700 gallons of water to make a cotton T-shirt,” manufactured in places with water pollution and scarcity.
“The waste of over-production and over-purchasing adds up to 10 million tons of clothing that ends up in landfills each year, the average American throwing away 70 to 80 pounds of clothing annually,” Field said, as she is “making visible the multi-layered problem of fast fashion.
In successive weeks, “Desires not even our own” will use the language, marketing and branding of a new clothing store, employing the language of advertising for each phase of the project: coming soon, soft opening, grand opening, and moving sale.
“I will incorporate signage, banners, flyers, and of course the store will have its own Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts along with a mailing list,” Fields said. “The marketing language will exist somewhere between an actual store opening and a piece of public art.“
Students from several local institutions will work at the exhibition, including Massachusetts College of Art and Design, The SMFA at Tufts, Leslie College, Umass Boston and Boston Collegiate Charter School.
The exhibition will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Thursday by appointment only, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fields has previously exhibited at the Barrington Center for Art in Wenham, MA, Essex Art Center in Lawrence, MA, and Jewett Gallery in Wellesley, MA. She has also had exhibitions at the Fitchburg Art Museum, Jane Lombard Gallery in New York, Burroughs-Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, SC, Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, MI, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA, and Cistercian Palace Monastery in Lubiaz, Poland.
In 2017, Fields received the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation artist grant from the Artist Resource Trust, and in 2014 the Amelia Peabody grant for sculpture from the St. Botolph Club Foundation.
In 2009, she was commissioned to create “Home is Where the Art Is” for Children’s Hospital, Boston.