The series Votives was inspired by hearing the news on the radio about the leaking nuclear waste from the tanks at The Hanford Reservation, in Washington. The questions I ask, in the work, is what can be done with nuclear waste? I researched the possibilities posed by the Department of Energy, the scientific community and collected articles from local newspapers. Each piece in the series presents a possibility or speculates on a hypothesis. The scope and reality of the problem really lies outside human comprehension, so each possibility has the ring of fantasy which is why I choose angels as witnesses. They are appropriated from Giotto and Fra Angelica. The Annunciation images seems especially appropriate for an inquiry into our enchantment with invisible powers; to question the omnipotent posture of human beings creating a product that will have to be safeguarded for a millennium.
I worked with a physicist to figure out how the invisible isotopes can be made visible and wove them into government stories. I attended hearing held by the Department of Energy about these issues, including the storage tanks leaking into the Columbia River. They are remains of World War II bomb making; “used on Japan. The Union of Concerned Scientist published a book WHAT TO DO WITH NUCLEAR WASTE? which like votives is one fairytale after another. The titles on my pieces come from these stories and local press. One article from the Lewiston Tribune stated that, “a salesman was being hired to sell nuclear fuel rods to… “Governors and Tribal chiefs for $100 thousand a year and that- Almost anything is negotiable.
Each of the Votives have a story based on some aspect of reality/folly from nuclear science. Votives are used in Brazil and other Latin American countries as prayers or wished-petitions to change human actions or realities.
Rita Robillard, 2020