Rogue Wheat Paste Installations
By Deon Reynolds
A few years back, my wife Trish and I were commissioned to create several large-scale wheat paste murals for the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. Wheat paste is a simple process dating back to the time of antiquity. In our case, we cooked up our own flour and water mixture to make the glue, which is applied to the wall, as well as over the art work itself. The images were printed on 24-inch-wide rolls of light-weight plotter paper.
After we had digested the entire experience we started to think about how these techniques may be used in different ways. We were living in Eureka, Nevada at the time, where there’s a plethora of abandoned mining structures and housing left over from bygone gold rushes. Around that same time, we were working with a local family on a photographic restoration project from their family photo albums. This is when the idea came together to install large images of people in these structures who may have interacted with them back in their day. With their permission, we were treated to this family’s photographic treasure trove of Eureka, Nevada history.
After scouting locations, measuring walls, and photographing each site, we made mock-ups of the locations to help visualize the installations and aid us in pairing images to final sites. We settled on Old Woman to be our first rogue wheat paste, and we found the process to be quite exhilarating, prompting us to produce the next ones quickly! In total, we created five murals, returning humanity to these long abandoned structures. We placed two murals in nearby Prospect and three in Ruby Hill.
After completing the five installations we were ready to share their locations with the family who provided the photographs. They returned wide-eyed, exclaiming we had installed Old Woman in the house their great aunt had actually lived in! We did this without prior knowledge (insert Twilight Zone music)!
For the most part, we have kept mum the locations of these art installations as our intentions are to re-photograph the murals over time as a documentary project, not necessarily to share with art adventurers seeking to locate them like geocache hunters.
These wheat paste installations are made from bio-degradable objects, (flour, water, and plotter paper) and will fade from view in a few years, never to be seen again...
For more photographs and video of these Rogue Wheat Paste installations, please visit deonreynolds.com and read my new blog.
Deon Reynolds is an internationally recognized, award winning photographic artist currently living in Carson City, Nevada. His work is included in the show, “Extraction,” at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, which is on display until September 22, 2019. Deon’s two images in this exhibition are designed to promote a positive image of wind energy in the landscape.