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The Library We Carry With Us

collaboration with artist Siân Barlow

A Little Space Gallery, Wales UK

October 29, 2022

The work will link us together through art made in response to our gardens. The garden of a terraced house in the Gwendraeth Valley in a rural and post-industrial part of East Carmarthenshire, West Wales. And the garden of a Bungalow in Eagle Rock, a Northeast Los Angeles Community in California. Eagle Rock is densely populated urban hills and valleys on Tongva land. Nestled in between the City of Glendale to the West, the City of Pasadena to the East, San Rafael Hills to the North and Los Angeles to the South. 

There is a sense of disconnection that comes from a worldview resting on economics of scarcity and exploitation of people and land. Wendell Berry said "People exploit what they have merely concluded to be of value, but they defend what they love ... and to defend what we love we need a particularizing language, for we love what we particularly know" (Robert MacFarlane, Landmarks, p.10). 
We assert that local and personal actions are necessary to address this disconnection. In this project we reclaim our sense of belonging in our own places, through the work of close attention.

Earth + Sky

collaboration with artist Siân Barlow

at Red Chair Studios, St. Louis, Missouri

October 9 - November 1, 2021


Siân Barlow, Jen Herzig Smith, and Con Christeson met in an online workshop in 2020.

Siân and Jen have remained in touch with weekly discussions, offering each other support and sharing. Their creative work is as similar as it is different. Both are exploring the acts of folding, of dipping and pouring ink on paper, and of using simple resist techniques. Siân’s tiny books are inspired by winter skies over the mountain, and Jen’s bound sculptures are grown out of the earth of her garden.

Con has graciously supported this collaboration, and offered a space in the window of Red Chair Studios for their work to be brought together.


"Swaddling" by Jen Smith

October 2 - November 15

“Swaddling” is a site specific sculpture that, over the period of the exhibition, will change by the intensity of the sun, rain and the hands that stitch it. Over the past few months (July - September 2021) Jen Smith has been gathering materials from the host's garden. Every new plant that she works with teaches her a little more about what it takes for us to survive in the hot dry climate of Southern California. The calming brownish pink color of the fabric comes from a natural dye made with the leaves, flowers and seeds of the Carrot Tree that lives in front of the house. A ball of bound bamboo roots rests with the feather grass. The landscape in this garden is a common representation of a Los Angeles garden with succulents, dry grasses and crushed granite. Although this kind of urban landscaping is considered extremely hardy in the intense Southern California heat there is still the need for human nurturing to maintain balance. As Jen has worked on the installation the ants adapt and incorporate the blanket into their daily routes. The openings are for what’s living underneath. When you visit please feel free to take a moment, kneel down, and lean in. 

The "Swaddling" blanket will continue to evolve and change while it's outside from October 2 - November 15. Jen will be working on it. The natural elements will be working on it.

Partnering local residents with artists, the Terrain Biennial brings contemporary art into the intimate terrain of the front yard with the goals of fostering dialogue between neighbors and providing access to new art for a wide range of people. Founded by artist Sabina Ott, the first Terrain Biennial was held in her Oak Park, Illinois neighborhood in 2013. Through each edition, the Biennial has grown to include more than 250 locations worldwide. This year there are six sites in the Los Angeles area. Locations can be accessed through an interactive map on

A companion to “Swaddling” is an installation by Barbara Hashimoto in Eagle Rock. Barbara and Jen have partnered in artistic projects intermittently for 20 years. For the Terrain Biennial they are hosting each other’s work at their respective homes/studios. They are interested in, not only in bringing art to each other’s neighborhood, but also to create installations made from and integrated into the landscape of each site.   Atwater Village and Eagle Rock share a common history. Both were a part of the large swath of land whose first human inhabitants were the Tongva people. The Tongva were displaced by three other nations — Spain, Mexico, and the U.S. — through the mission system, land grants, legislation, and legal maneuvers. The people that followed the Tongva include the laborers on the large rancheros, Japanese immigrants who tended small strawberry farms, and factory workers who bought land-tract development homes. Today, according to recent census, this area is home to a highly diverse ethnic population with nearly 50% of residents born abroad (mostly from the Philippines and Mexico.) Foremost, the artists acknowledge that our sites for the Terrain Biennial are located within the original homeland of the Tongva people.

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