This post is part of our Public Art Network 2018 Year in Review blog salon. The Year in Review presentation is available for purchase in our bookstore.

What is a decommissioned military trailer carrying a structure erected of charred wood doing in the parking lot of an industrial area of Boulder, Colorado? It might not sound too unexpected given the materials and context, but upon entering you find yourself in a space constructed for contemplation, complete with a reflecting pool. This is Everything At Once by Mary Mattingly, and part of the Boulder Office of Arts and Culture’s “Experiments in Public Art” program.

Photo by Corey H. Jones.

Everything At Once utilized these repurposed materials, presented through the realm of an art experience, as means for social conversation, collaboration, and social change. As a foray for conversation around funding priorities and positions within the United States, Mattingly created an environment specifically constructed of a decommissioned military trailer used in Afghanistan and charred wood from a U.S. public school that recently closed in Wisconsin. Everything At Once asks, “Can we process complex histories through the transformation of objects and materials in order to collectively imagine other ways of being in the world?”

Mattingly wanted to explore what it means to live, passively for many of us, during the longest war the United States has participated in. The concept’s aim was to rethink the use of the trailer and materials as a physical conduit for a conversation of reconciliation. She created this space upon the platform of a military trailer, with a violent and costly history, for communication and contemplation around the priorities of our country, exhibited through financial priorities.


As a foray for conversation around funding priorities and positions within the United States, Mattingly created an environment specifically constructed of a decommissioned military trailer used in Afghanistan and charred wood from a U.S. public school that recently closed in Wisconsin.


Finding the right location for this project was tricky. As Mattingly developed her concept, it was clear an appropriate space for siting the work was needed to meet the concept. The desire to introduce these questions thoughtfully and quietly may not have been realized if the project was prominently showcased in a highly trafficked area or in a pristine park setting. With a challenging and charged concept, the experience did not need to be big and loud. It needed to meet its audience, allowing for opportunity to investigate and internally connect the materials to the concept, then creating a space for conversation. Because of this, the Office of Arts and Culture partnered with the Boulder Creative Collective, which seeks to bring together, support, and cultivate the diverse artistic energies of the Boulder community, to host Everything At Once in their warehouse parking lot.

Photo by Boulder Office of Arts and Culture.

Everything At Once was featured in the Boulder Office of Arts and Culture “Experiments in Public Art” program from August through September of 2017. The program creates the opportunity for dialogue-based public art experiences and civic interventions that serve as a citywide laboratory expanding the potential of public art. It was launched by the Boulder Office of Arts and Culture in 2014.


About the participants:

Mary Mattingly a visual artist. Her work “Swale” is a floating food forest for New York, situated on a 130-foot by 140-foot barge that docks in harbors around the city. In 2015, she completed a two-part sculpture, Pull, for the International Havana Biennial with the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Habana and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Mattingly’s work has been exhibited at the International Center of Photography, the Seoul Art Center, the Brooklyn Museum, the New York Public Library, deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, and the Palais de Tokyo. With the U.S. Department of State and Bronx Museum of the Arts she participated in the smARTpower project, traveling to Manila. In 2009 Mattingly founded the Waterpod Project, a barge-based public space and self-sufficient habitat that hosted over 200,000 visitors in New York. In 2014, an artist residency on the water called WetLand launched in Philadelphia. It is being utilized by the University of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Humanities program.

On Instagram: @marymattingly #marymattingly

The City of Boulder’s Office of Arts and Culture is currently implementing Boulder’s Community Cultural Plan. Through a set of programs including cultural grants, public art, initiatives that support artists and the creative economy, and research, the office supports the community-created Vision for Culture: Together, we will craft Boulder’s social, physical, and cultural environment to include creativity as an essential ingredient for the wellbeing, prosperity, and joy of everyone in the community.

On Instagram: @boulderartsculture #boulderarts

The Boulder Creative Collective was created in 2013 by Addrienne Amato and Kelly Cope Russack, an artist and art lover who sought to fill a void they felt existed in the local art community. By hosting numerous pop-up galleries and events around town, they discovered the many artists who also sought support, creative development, and inclusion.

On Instagram: @bouldercreativecollective #bouldercreativecollective