A Zoo and Movie Studio once stood across my studio in Lincoln Heights in the 1920s. By collecting fragments of history and images in response to a curiosity about why this stretch on Mission Rd. felt strangely vacant and ghostly, I began to uncover the story of Colonel William Selig. Selig was a man with dreams and ambitions to build a movie studio / amusement park of grand proportions, complete with coasters, rides, and an artificial surf beach. Photos of the old Selig zoo reveal a grand entrance with concrete elephants and lions, at the corner where a laundromat and snack shop stand today. Selig’s dreams and his reality never added up entirely. As I looked at pictures of this amusement park/Zoo, I could see the animals behind chain-link fences, a few rides and gardens but the idea of a fantastical park never really came to fruition. Today, the memory of Selig zoo clings on by threads, and the history lives in pieced together fragments of photos, barely recognizable and remembered.
In this body of work, I wanted to explore this idea of heading west to build your dream, of the inherent optimism upon setting out to make it, and of the cycle of disappointments and struggles that happen when these dreams are not all we envision. In many ways, this is our story as human beings, dreamers, and artists.
There is a layering of the past, the present, and the imagined past in both the research and in the sculptures themselves in the form of stories and fantasies. These objects tell the story of forgotten histories, ideas of the human condition, man’s struggle with civilization, and the fantasy’s that we build and destroy in the retelling of history and identity.
The video work in this series uses Mora’s “Alejandra” and Rosa’s “Over the Waves” both created in the early 1900’s as the soundtrack to the work. These Mexican waltzes were appropriated often for American carousels and amusement rides and developed associations of their own with the 1920’s.
Works in this Series
Materials: Tumbleweed, paint, flocking, glitter, dyed polyester
Dimensions: 50"x 53" x 23"