Weep Holes, 2022. Detail of installation at MASS MoCA; on view through January 2023. Photo: Tony Luong

Object Lessons: Lily Cox-Richard

“Weep holes” is such an evocative phrase. Many people aren’t aware of its architectural meaning. They might think of leaking orifices or crying eyeballs, which also work in terms of relieving pressure or finding equilibrium. I was thinking about this as an example of how energies flow through a space to heal and rebalance a system. Like the relief after a good sob, there’s a kind of balance restored. Without this release, the pressure becomes too great, and we, like retaining walls, begin to collapse.

I think a lot about how objects can subvert the roles we assign to them. There’s a playfulness and a desire in these materials. Sand bags that barricaded against rising waters support sand castles, while fire hoses weave between columns to form the edge of a basket. A drone chandelier released from surveillance duty gets to throw rainbows; while tomato cages, kudzu, and bamboo bind themselves into starburst trellises. Arborist’s rope, loosely spliced by many different hands and held together with beads, stitches, and lashings, feels mycelial, a metonym for complicated interconnections that can grow, break, or become something completely new—like the fire pits that I made and sent to friends, which temporarily re-gather in the gallery, some flamboyantly repaired. A giant broom made of backer rod seems to have just swept through the space and now stands attentively still. Everywhere there’s a possibility for something else, for a kind of lightness, or charge, that casts humans—no longer the main characters—in a different role. Materials, systems, and objects have an agency that they’re flexing; they’re equal players in this other possible—or already adjacent, nearly future—world.