Public Art Report by The Cabbage Tree Mob – Erin Shafkind and Will Gundy

The Cabbage Tree Mob consists of mainly two members, Will Gundy and Erin Shafkind. We formed in mid 2012 to participate in an arts festival at Smoke Farm in Arlington, Washington. We lifted our name from 19th century Australian roustabouts who wore hats made from the leaves of the cabbage tree that grew along their rivers. In a like manner we draw materials and ideas from our surroundings and re-embed them into the projects we create.

The Cabbage Tree Mob is committed to engaging the public with color, humor, and surprise to give people access to art. Toward this end we are especially interested in tangible work that invites physical involvement from our public collaborators. All of our projects endeavor to bring our fabricating skills and conceptual integrity into alignment with the place for which our work is intended, its history and its people.

Working from various themes, history of place, and the prospect for social engagement we then build three-dimensional works. In recognition of public interaction and exposure we carefully consider access, durability and safety while at the same time loading the art with joy, surprise, and whimsy.

We take on the responsibility of making and conceiving art seriously. By chasing absurdity we seek to pry gaps and chinks into the flatness of our everyday thinking so that the unexpected has room to slip through and give us pause, wonder, even delight. This is slow, committed work and we are energized by the notion that even the smallest pin prick lets hot air out of a balloon.

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