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Chris Mottalini (b.1978), The Mistake by the Lake [gray shelter with stacked wood], 2011; archival digital color print, 11 x 13 7/8 inches; Gift of the Artist, 2013

Chris Mottalini (b.1978), The Mistake by the Lake [gray shelter with stacked wood], 2011; archival digital color print, 11 x 13 7/8 inches; Gift of the Artist, 2013

Artist’s Statement: The Mistake by the Lake is a photographic record of the assortment of school bus shelters scattered across the greater Buffalo, New York landscape. Parents build these sentry-like structures in order to protect their children from the brutal Buffalo winters. Though these fascinating examples of amateur architecture are created for a specific need, over time that need diminishes and the structures become merely part of their surroundings. These shelters remain as strange, repetitive reminders of past necessity.

These structures are representative of the universal impulse of cars, which undercuts the narrative of neglect and abandonment that the mention of Buffalo (my hometown) usually invokes. The heart of the work for me is capturing the material products of human concern and emotion that have, in many cases, fallen into disuse.