During the fall of 2016, I traveled to my home town, Biddeford, Maine, to conduct semi-structured interviews with mill workers from the Pepperell Mills, a former textile manufacturing hub in New England. These skilled workers were left unemployed in light of the offshoring of American manufacturing in the 1970s. Their personal histories speak to the small town abandonment seen widely across North America. I mirrored their stories with those of artisans, D.I.Y. specialists and used-clothing store employees, all based in Montreal, Quebec, my current home. Each collected interview is part of my ongoing research to discover and implement alternative ways to conduct ad-hoc life-cycle analysis on goods that have already been bought and consumed.
Although much scholarship has focused on the macro level of sustainable fashion and consumption habits, there is a unique opportunity to contribute to this discourse on the micro level. I attribute agency to individuals, interpreting their unheard voices through art-making and narrative dissemination. For this project, I created compelling dioramas and miniatures to accompany each recorded audio segment. The project Biddeford-Montreal culminates in a multimedia installation, using cozy upcycled furniture to delineate the gallery into eight distinct listening stations. Gallery visitors are invited to sit, listen to the audio segments through headphones and interact with their corresponding tiny visuals. This installation transforms any gallery into a homey and welcoming learning space.