Carlie Trosclair: Artist Finds Inspiration in St. Louis' Abandoned and Decaying Buildings

Categories: Architecture

Installation shot of Trosclair's work currently on display at CAM.

In the seemingly pristine and relatively newly built Contemporary Art Museum, Trosclair came to an important realization while installing her exhibition last month:

"A big challenge I faced was how to address the lifespan of abandoned buildings within the context of the pristine museum walls. Museums purposefully erase indications of past exhibitions, resetting to neutral to create an environment that is timeless in appearance."

Perhaps what is most striking about Trosclair's installation is that it utilizes the entire height of CAM's exhibition space.

See also: RFT's 2012 profile of Carlie Trosclair

The materials used in the installation came from actual St. Louis buildings that either have been demolished or rehabbed recently. In particular, some of the two-by-four timbers came from a house in Old North St. Louis, itself an embodiment of Trosclair's interest in the slow, inexorable deterioration of just another of the city's anonymous buildings. It also brings to mind Marcel Duchamp's Readymades, common items (such as the infamous R. Mutt Urinal) elevated by the French artist to the level of high art. In the same way, the common, everyday building materials of St. Louis take on a new level of importance in the white spaces of the gallery.

A detail of Trosclair's work at CAM, showing how the artist replicates the decaying wallpaper of abandoned St. Louis houses.

Trosclair's next project has her teaming up with well-known local preservationist Michael Allen for a collaboration titled 30 Days of Demolition, which will collect and analyze the remnants from St. Louis building demolitions over one month's time.

Concludes Trosclair, "You can't be in St. Louis city and not be interested in the architecture on some level."

Chris Naffziger writes about architecture at St. Louis Patina. Contact him via e-mail at

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