In a few days, a room full of eggshells will be dust. Pulverized. What was once garbage bags of cleaned and cracked eggs will take up a fraction of their volume as currently poured into the corners of the Reaux Family Vault gallery at Acadiana Center for the Arts. When her show ends Saturday, installation artist Susan David will invite show-goers to stomp the eggs into powder.
“I really want people to help me change the nature of this project,” David says of the culmination, “so I can keep my material and maybe reuse it in a different fashion. It’s gonna turn into an egg fest.”
The installation, called Emerge, is two years in the making. It was designed to fit the vault specifically and conceived to evoke every iteration of egg idiom, she says. Walking on eggshells; putting all your eggs in one basket; fertility, fragility and fragmentation. David says it’s a way to probe meaning that connects the humility of the egg with what she regards as a fractured universe. It’s a blank vehicle for all kinds of commentary: consumerism, waste, temporality, obsession.
From a clearing near the door, the blanket of matte white feels at once like a womb and a graveyard. Stripes of brown mottle the scene’s uniformity, adding depth to the composition. The effect is solemn, aided by a uterine soundtrack David says is a recording of the famed Taos hum, a mysterious drone that emanates at certain spots around the globe, most notably at the New Mexico ski resort town.
Perhaps better known locally for her print-making and Downtown murals, David turned her nonprofit Freetown Studios into an exhaustive egg-cleaning workshop to stand Emerge up by its opening in September of this year. The project was funded by an ArtSpark grant, a program financed by the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and administered by AcA.
The work took a village. David sourced eggs from seven local restaurants, picking up daily boxes of eggs on her lunch break. She got the studio listed on the sheriff’s database of eligible community service nonprofits. The sum total of 50 or so misdemeanor offenders worked off their sentences washing eggs by the bag full. For many of the “volunteers,” the mindlessness paid off in creation, she says. Many have come by the exhibit since it opened, taking in the fruits of their washing and her foreman-like particularity. (David has a certain way she likes the eggs to be washed, without damaging or “feathering” the shells such that they lose their structure.)
The en-masse effect of the egg mound echoes the works of artists like Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who often accumulated single objects like wrapped candies into large-scale meditations. The materials are mundane and the work replicable with sufficient obsession. David’s is obvious.
Dust won’t be the final state for the eggs. She is considering other ways to use the material once pulverized. This is a burden she’s dragged around for some time. Once compacted, she’s toyed with new vehicles: a sculpture of a dozen eggs, made from the dust of thousands; a body molded from egg dust paste. Whatever it is, she intends to find a new stage for the eggs she collected. A comment on waste would seem insincere if discarded.
“After two years of collecting, I’ve become a little attached to these shells,” she says. “This trash has become precious to me.”
Emerge closes its run at AcA with an egg stomp during ArtWalk on Saturday, Nov. 9.