An artist based in LA has chosen an unusual canvas in an abandoned mine in Lime, Oregon. The artist goes by Thrashbird, and describes his artistic style as unorthodox or messy, rooted in graffiti and street art. He has painted large-scale, luxury handbags on abandoned, decaying structures an hour and a half away from Boise.
Thrashbird has been traveling the West Coast over the past couple years in search of abandoned places. He is inspired with the visual history of these locations.
“I have a deep fascination with American history and so all of these places have these lives and there have been people there that have existed and that really makes me wonder about what the people were like and what these places were for them. So I thought it would be really neat to start integrating my art into these places as kind of a gift or a treasure to find out in the middle of nowhere,” says Thrashbird.
He also chose this location because of the impact it has on the viewer. He says that the viewer has a more personal experience with the work because of its location.
“You’re there and you really get to internalize because you’re there, probably by yourself, or with one other person, there’s nobody else around and you do know that it being in the middle of nowhere, that you’re going to get to have this experience that not very many people are going to have first-hand,” says Thrashbird.
He looked at the buildings there and had the idea to paint handbags on them because of their existing shapes. He saw that the buildings were decaying and that they would eventually erode away, which adds to his statement about the work. He calls the work “thrashbird’s Valley of Secret Values” and describes the meaning behind it as a personal struggle with ego and grandiosity.
“When the idea hit me to do them as bags, the idea was really about how I wanted to convey a message that possessions, things that we fill our lives with, they don’t really fulfill us on a deep, emotional level. And that our connection to them is fleeting,” says Thrashbird.
The bags are all painted with aerosol spray paint and latex house paint. Thrashbird has no formal art education and says that he learned a lot of his techniques and what he knows from mentors that he’s had. So far, he’s painted 11 bags and the artist plans to complete about 17 or 18 pieces.
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