Artist Statement: Terceira (a Portuguese island in the Azores) has a seemingly endless amount of abandoned buildings; I adore them. An earthquake struck the island near Angra de Heroismo in 1980. I assume many of these damaged structure were simply created from quake’s aftermath. I do know some were destroyed by other means, such a flood, fire, or simply left deserted.
I love to explore these derelict remains; they inspire and satisfy a childlike curiosity within me. I feel like Alice in my own eerie and desolate version of Wonderland or as if I have stumbled into a faintly sinister adaptation of The Secret Garden. I know part of my fascination with these derelict structures is from an artist’s perspective, the captivating allure of nature breaking down human constructs. These contemporary ruins fascinate me. I admire how nature seems to have an unlimited ability to reclaims itself.
Once these structures are neglected, the paint peels away; dust and dirt accumulate causing cracks to form in the concrete that allow roots take hold. Foliage growth is now uninhibited by humans, ivy begins to adhere to the walls and unattended roof tiles begin to disintegrate under layers of plant growth as the seasons change. I find compelling and comforting beauty in this. I love this visual reassurance that nature persists far past our ability to contain it and our environmentally destructive tendencies. Walking past these overgrown buildings causes a tranquil feeling within me, leaving me momentary at peace.
On another level my appreciation for the cultural history. Human hands constructed these buildings. Several were in existence before my home state was ever officially a state. As I wander through these abandoned spaces, I feel like I am walking through an old photograph, as if everything should be in sepia tone. I can’t help but wonder about the lives once touched by these places. At one time, these structures were new, a home for a family, or a place of business. Each place has its own long forgotten histories of human interactions, evident in dusty photos on water-damaged dressers, bottles left on kitchen shelves, glasses on a nightstand, and sun-bleached images of various religious figures hanging crookedly on cracked walls. How could this intriguing environment not inspire curiosity?
My eyes constantly search the landscape as I travel throughout the island, always look for new abandoned buildings to discover. They are a captivating and unique part of my temporary island home.