New American Quilts: Artist Carson Davis Brown’s Homage to Corporate Consumption

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Inspired by the tradition of American quilting and the performative technique of détournement, New American Quilts (NAQ) is an ongoing site-specific installation and photographic project by Carson Davis Brown, partially supported through a VSCO Artist Initiative grant. “Simulating branded edifice and the promise of abundance,” Brown creates quilt patterns in the most ubiquitous of big box stores by meticulously stacking, organizing and repositioning everyday items like detergent, sponges and dish towels. He then photographs the ornate displays and prints the images at Walmart’s photo department, using these captured moments to inform the motifs woven into each blanket.

Throughout the process of this project, Carson views himself as an ecofeminist* and an activist. In his words, he is “making these quilts for a future audience to learn about and consider our moment in global consumer capitalism, an era that has created conditions impossible for human and animal life to be sustained. Once completed, Brown leaves the installations intact, encouraging curious shoppers to have a moment with the impromptu art exhibit before someone on staff eventually dismantles and returns the goods to their ordinary, shelf-life state. The cycle continues.

*Ecofeminism is an academic movement that sees critical connections between the domination of nature and the exploitation of women.

This article was originally published in RANGE Zine Issue Six.

xx Jeanine