NAFTA's Gift

Haynie's Corner Art District, Evansville, Indiana, 2013

Materials: Whirlpool top freezer refrigerator, Ponderosa pine lumber

3rd Place in the 2013-14 SculptEVV Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, Evansville, Indiana

Juror: Lisa Freiman, Senior Curator and Chair of the Department of Contemporary Art, Indianapolis Art Museum

Even before Whirlpool arrived, Evansville was known as the refrigerator capital of the world. In their 2011 centennial history, the Whirlpool Corporation is silent on the closing of their Evansville refrigerator plant in 2010. In that official history there is no mention that the company would be moving its plant to Monterrey, Mexico, eliminating 1,100 jobs.  Blaming a global market and dwindling sales for freezer-top refrigerators as the reason for closing the plant, Whirlpool management defended the decision stating that the factory was being undercut by high costs and an underused capacity for freezer-top refrigerators. Yet, one can still find those same models on Whirlpool's website and in stores.

Using a 2009 freezer-top refrigerator (the year Whirlpool announced it would be closing its plant), I placed it onto a wooden pallet and enclosed it inside a wooden crate and addressed it, to: the Evansville factory location, and from: the Monterrey, Mexico address. On the side of the fridge I attached a copy of the original letter announcing the plant's closing.

The wood used for the pallet and crate is ponderosa pine from Northern Arizona. Originally, I was just going to buy wood from a lumber store in Evansville, but something kept telling me to use wood from my home and haul it to Indiana. When I went to pick up the lumber from my Silas Page, who owns AP Sawmill, and told him about my project, he shared with me that the majority of the ponderosa pine in Northern Arizona is being bought by Mexican merchants who purchase it for maquiladoras (U.S. factories) to make into crates for shipping U.S. goods back to el Norte.