CINDY ZIMMERMAN’S GROTTO PROJECT
I will be in residence at Desert Dairy early January and again in April to create a grotto in the 5’ wide x 9’ long x 8’ high milk storage room of the former dairy barn. The dairy is a remnant of the decade or so in the early 20th century when it rained a lot in the Mojave. The rest of the barn is now a studio and gallery complex, and my grotto will be situated in the lean-to portion of the structure.
All my life I have been working in tight spaces and bunker-like environments, by choice and by necessity: side rooms, back rooms and closets, tiny studios, the hallway of a rec center, a pillbox on a former military base, an oversize wooden crate, a sandbag cubicle, and most recently, the Cooler Room at Art Produce Gallery in San Diego.
The cave-like Desert Dairy space will become an ornate, maximalist chamber, with an altar made of concrete garden features, fake rocks, niches, weathered wood, a vintage milk can, and the illusion of flowing water. Cave paintings will feature a bestiary of lactating animals and carnivorous birds. An imagined portal opposite the door will lead into the cosmos, with heaven painted on the ceiling.
The space I will create is more like the chapels you would find in an airport or a hospital, a place to go while engaged in other pursuits, for reflection, taking a pause, setting intentions, maybe creating your own private rituals. The grotto will not be religion-affiliated; it will be sacred and profane, casual rather than formal, and not purporting to have any particular wellness or occult benefits for the visitor. I will continue to return as this project unfolds, and to enjoy the solitude and validation of the visionary experiences that enable my art.