Manufactured Classroom (2021) is an installation that comments on the white supremacy and racism built into the public education system in the United States and the resource gaps and inequities that result. Each desk is made from printer paper and wheatpaste, which are two materials readily available in most underserved public school art programs.
The 16 desks in this installation populate a small room, reflecting many classrooms in this country, and make it feel claustrophobic and overwhelming. Altogether, just under 2,200 sheets of paper were individually saturated in wheatpaste and placed around actual desks to create the freestanding, lightweight structures. The foundational desks used came from Ypsilanti Community Schools, which is an underserved urban district in southeastern Michigan.
The lack of students represents those who are “failed forward” and allowed to leave a system underprepared. The lack of real desks underneath the paper desks represents the lack of a structure that equally serves every student. The whiteness of the paper reflects both the skin color of those most public school curricula best serve, as well as the appearance of a klan robe. And hidden in most of the desks are two eye-holes near the lower, front corners that glare at all who enter the room.