Created and Sold by Scott Hocking

Scott Hocking
Public Sculptures by Scott Hocking seen at Guoin Street, Detroit - Bone Black (2019)
Public Sculptures by Scott Hocking seen at Guoin Street, Detroit - Bone Black (2019)
Image credit: Scott Hocking

Bone Black (2019)

Item details

BONE BLACK is a site-specific installation and photography project created over the course of 5 weeks in the Spring of 2019. Based on an 1890’s photograph of a massive pile of bison-bones at the Michigan Carbon Works plant in Detroit, and the “bone black” pigment created from their process of burning animal bones, practiced for approximately 150 years, the installation was commissioned by Cranbrook Art Museum, for the exhibition “Landlord Colors: On Art, Economy, & Materiality,” curated by Laura Mott. The work was designed site-specifically within the vacant Assembly Bay building of the former Northern Crane industrial sites, along an old railroad street called Guoin, one block from the Detroit River, in the historic Warehouse District. Focusing on the metaphorical “bones” of Detroit, approximately 35 abandoned boats – Shipwrecks - and related debris, illegally dumped and neglected throughout the City, were collected via trailer-towing pick-ups and various winches, and hauled to the Northern Crane site as materials for the work. 33 of these Shipwrecks were suspended and stacked within the Assembly Bay, creating a ghost fleet or funerary procession through time, flowing westward parallel to the Detroit River. 22 of the boats were washed with the Bone Black pigment, allowing each Shipwreck’s colors, graffiti, and history to bleed through. Multiple boats had trees growing within them, which were preserved during install, with the tree-boats situated under the collapsed sections of roof, so they could soak up all of the rain. Playing with ideas of archeology, anthropology, ceremony, and mysticism, the installation was designed to transform the cavernous factory setting into a future-archaic scene from some alternate history, perhaps conveying an underwater view, looking up from the stillness of a seafloor. Photographed and documented over time, the suspended Ships were lowered in stages, hanging nose-down, and finally stacked into a central burial mound – a Shipwreck version of the Carbon Works bison-bone mountain. Exhibited from June through October of 2019, the entire installation was dismantled and destroyed by Autumn, with all 33 fiberglass wrecks being crushed into dumpsters, as they have no scrap-value and cannot be recycled - which is why they are so commonly dumped in Detroit.
Bone Black and the exhibition Landlord Colors were featured in Forbes, Hyperallergic, PBS Newshour, WDET's Culture Shift, the Detroit Free Press and Artnet News

Context & Credits

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Scott Hocking

Meet the Creator

Scott Hocking was born in Redford Township, Michigan in 1975. He has lived and worked in Detroit proper since 1996. He creates site-specific installations, sculptures and photography projects, often using found materials and neglected locations. Inspired by subjects ranging from ancient mythologies to current events, his artworks focus on transformation, ephemerality, chance, and the cycles of nature. He is left-handed and wears contact lenses. He has a speech impediment and was once hypnotized in an effort to correct this. He is a Pisces, born on the day of creative isolation, in the week of the loner, and the year of the cat. A psychic once told him he would have an average life and die at 88. He does not know how to roller-skate, ice skate, ski, or drive a stick shift. He is a percussionist and can play the glockenspiel part in Jupiter from Holst's Planets suite. He can read palms. He grew up on a dirt road, near a railroad track, with a dog named Bubba, who sometimes slept on the kitchen table. In elementary school, a visiting barnyard turkey took a shit on his head. At 19, he lived in a Toyota Corolla for 4 months. At 27, he lived in a French chateau for 2 months. He has 3 tattoos. He is a 6 of spades. He is the number 11. He has been to 42 states. He once hiked the Death Valley dunes on a 117°F day, which led to a lesson from the sheriff, who said: “Son, people die in the desert.” He’s been stalked by a New Mexican mountain lion. He’s slept on a Toronto billboard. He’s eaten reindeer in Akureyri, deep-fried honeybees in Shanghai, kangaroo in Illaroo, and grasshoppers in Oaxaca. His spirit animals are the dog, which walks on his left, and the crow, which flies on his right. His childhood nickname was Scooter. He’s a 6th generation Detroiter, descended from Baltic Polish immigrants and a long line of Cornish copper miners who settled in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Two dogs have bitten him in his life: Once on the right calf; Once above the right eye. His favorite films are Le Samourai and The Road Warrior. He has been arrested 6 times, and accumulated more traffic tickets than anyone you know. His artwork has been exhibited internationally, including the Van Abbemuseum, the Kunst-Werke Institute, Kunsthalle Wien, and the French Triennial Lille 3000: Renaissance, and nationally at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Smart Museum of Art, the School of the Art Institute Chicago, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Museum, The Mattress Factory Art Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Cranbrook Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum at MSU, and the University of Michigan Institute For The Humanities. His projects have been featured in numerous publications and programs, including Art Forum, ArtNet, Art 21, The New York Times, Forbes, Frieze, Time, Sculpture Magazine, Hyperallergic, Modern Painters, Blouin ArtInfo, Bad At Sports, Brooklyn Rail, The Art Newspaper, Modern Art Notes, The Art Assignment, Derive Journal, Objektiv Art Journal, Beaux Arts, der Standard, La Repubblica, BBC Radio 4, RTE Irish Radio, National Geographic, PBS Newshour, Vice Magazine, Wall Street Journal, W Magazine, The Atlantic, Toronto Star, Boston Art Review, Yale University Press, Oxford University Press, and every Detroit periodical under the sun. He has received multiple awards, including a Kresge Artist Fellowship, a Knight Foundation Arts Challenge Grant, and an Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, as well as residential grants in France, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Brazil, and throughout the United States. He is represented by David Klein Gallery, Detroit.

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