This oral history interview is an intimate conversation between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share this recording with Oral History Summer School, and with you. Please listen in the spirit with which this was shared.
This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please inquire about permissions.
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This interview with Matt Bua was conducted on July 3, 2016 at Matt’s property outside of Catskill, New York, in a cabin Matt constructed with friends. In the interview, Matt discusses his art practice, his journey to Catskill from a Childhood in coastal North Carolina & involvement in the art and music worlds in Manhattan, the value of “architecture without architects,” the power of community, and the variety of dwellings and structures that Matt and community members have built on Matt’s property. Matt also discusses artistic and philosophical inspirations for his art and lifestyle, his involvement in the Catskill Mapping Project and Catskill Maker’s Syndicate, and his research and authorship of his book, Talking Walls: Casting Out the Post-Contact Stonewall Building Myth on the deep origins of the stonewall construction style found throughout the Hudson Valley and beyond, which Matt believes to be of American Indian origin. A substantial portion of Matt’s interview is spent discussing the power of reclaiming expertise and making in Matt’s life and art practice — from historical knowledge to knowledge of the land and region one inhabits to knowledge of how to make and construct one’s own dwellings. Matt also briefly discusses his vision for, creation of, and the ongoing maintenance of the Catamount People’s Park in Catskill — a reclining-bobcat structure and people’s park public art experiment made of reclaimed materials.
This interview will be of interest to anyone interested in process-related art practice, vernacular architecture, the construction of art environments, the culture and history of Catskill and Greene County, motivations for the construction of one’s own dwellings and environments, the history of the stonewalls of the Hudson Valley, vernacular history and geography work, installation art, and artistic collaboration. Matt’s interview also focuses on the power and significance of our current cultural and ecological moment, and would be of significant to researchers and listeners interested in interpretations of “Apocalypse” and artists’ visions of sustainable alternatives in Catskill, New York in 2016.
Jeff and Jess attended an open session of the Catskill Mapping Project held at Magpie Books in Catskill on Wednesday, June 29th, during Oral History Summer School 2016, on a suggestion of a documentary filmmaker friend of the program who lives in Catskill. There, they met Matt Bua, Kristi Gibson and Mollie Dash — affiliated with the Catskill Maker Syndicate; and all of whom were interested in being interviewed for the Hudson Oral History Archive. Jeff originally arranged this interview with Matt, but Jess is nosy and curious and also came along. They decided, experimentally, to share question-asking on this interview. Their psychic abilities were less in tune this day, so occasionally they gesture at each other about who should take the question lead next.
Jeff Nagle is an environmental history graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania and a Maryland native. His work focuses on the history of industrialization, deindustrialization, and landscape in the United States. He is a student at the 2016 Oral History Summer School in Hudson and is working on an ongoing project around the memory and legacy of urban renewal and environmental injustice in southwest Philadelphia.
Jess Lamar Reece Holler is a folklorist and oral historian from Columbus, Ohio. Her oral history and applied folklore work has focused on issues at the intersection of personal health, environmental health and justice, and food access and food justice. She has been particularly interested in documenting stories about how people come to connect questions of food, health, and environment in their own lives and through grassroots organizing; and in experiences of home, place, displacement, and place-related trauma, memory and healing. In Summer 2016 — the time this interview was conducted — Jess is working on an oral history project with the Eastwick community in Southwestern Philadelphia around environmental justice, displacement and the multiple attachments of home; and a statewide project documenting the rise of organic and ecological food system in her native Ohio. Via her folklore work, Jess is especially interested in vernacular architecture, art environments and how people — like Matt — envision and construct their own homes, environments, and the communities and practices they hope to cultivate and attract with these spaces.
This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.
Oral history is an iterative process. In keeping with oral history values of anti-fixity, interviewees will have an opportunity to add, annotate and reflect upon their lives and interviews in perpetuity. Talking back to the archive is a form of “shared authority.”