Campbell-Cooper, Jefferson


August 16 – September 7, 2007
Outdoor Site-specific Installation 
consisting of three works–Shove: Fill I, II, & III–installed at sites along the Yukon River from the Ferry Landing to the mouth of the Klondike River.




To make in three dimensions is to see, to touch, to experience, and to investigate.

The articulation of an idea to become form, for me, is to map, to identify and to give direction, to explore, observe and record. It is to document the ebb and flow of the twisted relationship between human intervention and Nature. In order to begin to unravel this complexity we must first ask what exactly is human intervention, or even what encompasses ‘the Natural’?

For The Natural & The Manufactured forum, the wilderness of the Yukon Territory provides endless insight into these questions. Within the matter of the wild North, the things of Canada, the ice, the stone, the water, the living and the dead, animals, plants, people, and their history, lay the secrets of the entire planet. I have set out to learn from my surroundings, to draw from the earth, investigating the relationships that humans are bound to in our own survival and greed. In this ever-changing world, the receding ice is revealing significant paleontological discoveries but is also highlighting the ethical questions around Humans exploitation of resources. Some of these paleontological discoveries help us understand Humans relationship with Nature through the ages, which in turn can provide insight into modern human behavior, or even, human nature. What does it mean to dig, to cut, and to collect? What does it mean to alter the environment? Other animals have and continue today to alter their environment, we are not the only species ever to walk the earth and engage in these seemingly ‘human’ behavioral characteristics.

Harvesting resources of the northern borealis forest, I propose to build multiple structures reminiscent of buckets and scoops found on heavy construction equipment and the Yukon’s dredges. The material is fastened together using instinct and ingenuity in only a primordial principle of what is found in the local landscape, to build from my surroundings. The life-size scale and accurately represented bucket-ness stand alone, severed from the machine, providing the potential that they could be attached to bucket-less equipment.  I hope to communicate the urgency and immediacy involved of having to build a structure in a short period of time. To evoke the feel of a nomadic shelter, vital, essential, utilitarian, and yet not necessarily human. The dam, the den, and the nest, when constructed by ancient mega-fauna could seem similar in scale to the imposing manipulation of heavy construction equipment. To use what is available to me in this environment to build the modern extension of our bodies, from the shovel to the front-end loader, I hope to engage the viewer in comparisons and contrasts of how we are in some ways Natural, and in other ways, how delicate Nature can be. The uselessness of the hand crafted wood bucket if attached to the front-end loader, in turn makes useless that equipment. The Natural side of mining’s Load:Haul:Dump unit then, can be Nature’s own Shove:Fill.



Jefferson is an emerging artist from Ontario, mapping the world around him through drawing and sculpture. By investigating the materials of his surroundings, including concrete, stone, wood, earth, and a range of metals, he unravels relationships by finding the forms of things we cannot always see.

He completed his BFA and minor in drawing from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Nova Scotia. From the east coast he then went on to receive his MFA from Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas. While in the American Southwest he also studied in Taos, New Mexico and other ancient American historical sites within Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma. He taught sculpture and drawing, directed foundry workshops, and even has built his own portable foundry.

Jefferson has been showing for the last five years across Canada and United States. His work revolves directly around life experiences, of his rural feral childhood, and of the places his dedication to understanding the Natural world have taken him. “It is through these experiences that the complex relationship between human intervention and Nature can begin to reveal itself.”