“Break Out” is about barnyards, porches, and Johnny Cash. It draws on the vernacular culture of rural California. Opening a screen door is an interesting, casual moment, since what is on the other side is already partly visible. Screen doors are used when the weather is good but you want to keep out flies, especially around barnyards. Don’t hold it open too long! The sound of worn screen doors creaking open and occasionally slamming shut is something lodged deep in many of our psyches – who’s coming in? who’s going out? Johnny Cash went out this year. No doubt he had some screen doors on his house. Although he never served time, the “Man in Black” sang a lot about prison life and performed in many prisons over the years. Incarceration and tough lives concerned him deeply. Let’s hold a door for him.
“Break Out” is composed of 32 reclaimed screen doors enclosed within a massive wall of hay bales – 6’ high and 6’ wide. Entry and exit is possible from two 3’ wide openings in the hay. The top of the installation is open. The visitor is able to wander through the doors in any direction – simultaneously opening and closing as one goes. Other visitors will advance and recede amid the layers of screen. There will tend to be a lot of creaking and slamming sounds, there is a screened-in compost pile, available to turn lawn clippings, leaves, well-rotted steer manure, and loose hay into soil. A bug zapper hangs at the top of the compost bin. There are tiny speakers embedded in the four walls of hay with a digital soundtrack composed of bug zapping sounds and distorted fragments of “Ring of Fire” and “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash.