I spent the summer of 1982 teaching at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. I looked closely at the buildings I saw in central Maine where the school is situated and in the end was most drawn to a covered stairway that went up the side of a two-story frame building in downtown Skowhegan. What attracted me was the windowed landing at the top and the oddly-slanted roof made of pieced-together metal sheeting.
I imagined taking the stairs away from the structure they served so that they would stand on their own as a self-sufficient, eccentrically-shaped sliver of a building. Removed from its original function as escape route from and/or private entrance to a second story, it became the vehicle for an exploration of many emotionally powerful experiences I had that summer.
One night, I spent hours watching a complete eclipse of the moon; often on other nights, Northern Lights would spread across the stars. Skowhegan Stairway became my escape route, my private entrance to the heavens—a kind of telescope or viewing platform like the stairways at Jaipur, India. One side became bright, reflective silver brick and the other side, sealed up when the building was removed, a black and tarry scar. The Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, and for a moment, the bright face of the Moon grows dark and cold. The stairway is removed from the building it leans against and learns to stand on its own, its purpose and focus changed.