Artist Statement
by Tiffany Sedaris with Tina Brand

Just to get this over with, I was a professional pastry chef all of my life. From the age of 15. I worked at some of Boston's finest restaurants until I became a full time artist.

Now that that's out of the way, I've been what New Englanders call a 'Trashpickaah' for the past 26 years. I find tile, glass, stone, metals, wood and all the materials for my work including boards, paints, pastels, and adhesives in the discarded areas, in curbside trash, dumpsters, and 3 feet under the ground.

The trash gods have been good to me.

When I am really lucky, I find whole lives stretched across the curb week after week. I visit that house and load up the wooden cart attached to my bicycle with baby pictures, cards that say "Congratulations on the new baby...can't leave you two alone for a minute," and on and on. I unearth this person's entire growth in their final trash. I pull this life home. I find child photos, graduation pictures, snapshots of a first boyfriend or a first girlfriend in front of a proud first car. I find wedding pictures. I watch a person get progressively older through all the things discarded at the end. A couple with their friends, highball glasses raised, having a good time and not knowing that two years around the corner, one of the women will be divorced, one of the men will go to war. Later I might wear that woman's dress. I will hold that man's dog tags in my hand. I will sleep under his war issue blanket thinking how afraid he must have been. I will find pictures of him later showing a different face, a different man. I appreciate these materials that I find for my work. The story of the average person's life is treasure and I believe in drawing it out, holding it up to the light, feeling its bite, and giving it a home.

Jesus doesn't live at the dump. I checked.

These are whole, rich, discarded lives and stories made refuse, pawed apart and put back together. I like digging for materials this way, and actually like the challenge of getting them home. All the dirty rotten things said to me while I dig and cart these prizes home is worth the scattered riches I gather onto my palette.

Another place I dig is a place I call the earthmall. I dig through the dirt and find broken pottery, marbles, and glass, showing me their story in the chips and cracks, in crazed glazes and a mineral rainbow sheen left by their long burial in earth's minerals. I love a discarded shard showing me interesting tales of change not unlike the last photos of an old woman's wrinkled face.

All of this eventually goes into my art. I put my fingers on every found piece again and again, making it tell a new tale. Someone who buys a piece of my work pays for where I found the material, how hard it was to find, how far I hauled it, and how special it has become.

Visit Tiffany's gallery