Jeff DaCosta | Installations/Series

Please click images for quick reference portfolio and scroll down for selected artwork statements 

Images # 1-4   “Yellow Cake, Heavy Water”,  2020
Sculpture/tryptic, Lead and gold leaf,
 16” x 16” x 5” ea.

Three cast-lead gold pans mounted side by side appear melted by the very material they are meant to retain and serve as allegory for the primacy of energy and the implication of its pursuit. 
As recontextualized artifacts, the pans appear fresh from use in some essential stream. Untouchable and abandoned when they failed, they dripped hot with human need, cooled, and froze. They speak of technological micro-epochs neither resolving or evolving but compounding, holding us wide-eyed to a reality we desperately create but do not control.
“Yellow Cake” is the term for uranium concentrate, a material created in the first step of uranium nuclear fuel refinement. This euphemism is symbolized with 24 Karat gold-leaf covering all melted areas of the lead pans. “Heavy Water (deuterium oxide or tritium oxide) is a specific type of water used in cooling nuclear reactors and references the physical weight of the materials in the work, the historic use of water in early prospecting, and the severity of the collective meaning.  Using these terms as title attempts to loose and leverage the viewer from vague understandings towards a terror reality.

Images # 5-8 "Land,  Law, Violence, Power: We Deal In Lead", 2018

Installation: Soil, Federal Indian Law Fifth Edition text, lead, resin 21” x 37” x 3” ea. 

Four earth-cast archive drawers serve as a metaphoric repository for American identity and its direct correlation to land. Containing 19th century paper firearm cartridges created from pages of a Federal Indian Law Fifth Edition text, a direct relationship is made to the notion of law as warfare by other means. With the inclusion of legal cases dating from the 1500s to the present, an arc of political intent is revealed that holds much of modern society in benefit. The works final feature returns to the primacy of place with the exchanged soil for each casings powder. Thus the overlays of legislative assertion, violent action, and historic romance yield an uneasy truth.


Images # 9-13 "Parcel" series, 2012 to Present

Temporal installations recorded as a digital photo series, prints on aluminum  

24" X 32" 

   The Parcel series is a collection of 12 separate outdoor temporal installations that explore the ethereal meaning of land and the significance of its purposed designation and control. Placed at several locations on public and BLM wilderness areas, they attempt to mirror a psychological or spiritual relationship to environment in the west. Darkness, eternally a metaphor for the unknown and supernatural, is emblematic of the landscape romanticized.  In the environment cloaked, we foster our greatest hopes of the undiscovered and un-ventured frontier. Here the unseen takes the shape of our imagination. In its blackness dreams and nightmares coexist only to be dissolved analyzed and dismissed with the light of the next day.  A radiating grid or singular parcel serves as the modern mark of humankind. In the documentation of these momentary works, dawn never comes to reveal the ghosts as sagebrush or aspirations as stars. Here we glance at mystery and potential, the notion of a great and awesome power just beneath our feet.


Images # 14-18, "Decoys" 2016

INFLUX, Scottsdale Public Art 
Life size wood deer silhouettes, U.V. reactive paint, and steel
    The Decoys installation consists of 16 free-standing deer silhouettes painted in the style of thermal imagery.  Constructed of birch panels and painted with florescent ultraviolet light sensitive paint, the group is scattered throughout a dormant retail space at the heart of a bustling outdoor mall in Scottsdale AZ. The title is reference to something that isn’t presented as something that is, while also eluding to a deeper context. As new technology allows us to see things we previously could not, we explore a netherworld of new information. In the example of this installation, technology not only reveals what is presently un-seen it also affords a glimpse of what once was. In essence, an image of the past through a lens of the future.



Images # 19-21, "Great Exchange" 2010

Landscape painting- soil, livestock glue, asphalt top sealant, industrial traffic safety yellow enamel- 5’9” x 4’1” x 6” Chairs- aluminum- 4’9” x 2’3” x 2’1”
     A large landscape painting and two complimenting horn chairs are arranged to create an installation harkening to the parlor of the nineteenth century American West. The selection of this genre illustrates connections of material attainment and conversion as it has taken place in our inherited and mythological past. The conversion of resources in the service of humanity is a direct and tangible equation. Unlike classical paintings from the period of manifest destiny representing land unfettered by use, the painting is indicative of the civilizations path, the road itself. In contrast it represents destiny manifest, civilization attained, and the land as material put to purpose. The two aluminum chairs serve as atmospheric compliments to the painting. From the history of the cattle yards and slaughter pens, the aluminum horn furnishings symbolize the legacy and decadence of surplus. Like the originating cast off-horns bent to form chairs, these too are a form of luxury but through the uniquely modern discarded material of aluminum, seemingly so long divorced from its livestock counterpart.

Images # 22-23 "Great Exchange 2, Red-tail Hawk  and Golden Eagle Wings, 2015

Kevlar and carbon fiber
Golden Eagle- 42" x 16" x 4" each
Redtail Hawk- 25” x 11” x 3” each
     The wing series explores the exchange of material from one form to another. In this case a symbol of American wilderness is converted through technology from flesh and feather to a purposed stagnation. With broken planes, the piece has the detail of the animal it replicates. Displaced feathers un-idealistically rendered in areas that meet the creature’s body speaks to the animal’s absence and reinforces the trade of the living and temporal for the ageless yet inanimate.  The bio mechanical  spirit in exchange for advanced human utility.

Images # 24-26, "New Trophy" 2012

Foam, steel rebar, fluorescent-pink survey flags
4’ x 4’5” x 6’ 

          New Trophy serves as a contemporary manifestation of achievement. Formally derived from the rich tradition of hunting culture, the piece acts as an apex signifier of individual power. With the adaptation of over 2000 fluorescent-pink survey flags, this conversion addresses not merely the culling and appropriation of resources, such as fauna but also the management, regulation, and control of the land itself as a true measure of dominance.

Images # 27-28  "Thermal Paintings" 2014 to Present

Oil on board
Moose- 42” x 32”
Pronghorn-13" x 13"

        As an appropriation of western American wildlife painting, through the “Thermal Painting Series” I seek to create works of a uniquely contemporary esthetic. By rendering traditional scenes as though the subject was viewed through thermal imaging, my intent is to not only place the nostalgia of the past in the technological present, but also explore the meaning of such scientific advancement. Through this lens of living heat, the posture and intent of the viewer is naturally altered or even revealed. 


Images # 29-32, "Rain Catchers" 2011 – 2012

Recycled aluminum; outdoor installation, rain catchers
24’ to 15’ in length
Installation: Biosphere 2, Oracle AZ

       As a community-based project installed on the campus of Biosphere 2, Rain Catchers consists of forty cast aluminum rain-gathering devices fabricated from casts of children’s hands. The purpose of appropriating a child’s hand into a water-gathering device relates to the responsibilities that the future generations face. As resource management fades from preference and rematerializes as critical necessity, the burden or opportunity to solve these problems becomes the unique obligation of today’s youth. For these reasons, the child’s hand represents both hope and faith in the human element. Modern technology is represented in its conversion to the enduring material of aluminum. The merger of its form to the funnel and pipe is the intellectual and scientific design that unites the elements to collective purpose. By placing the hands amongst the plant life there is a conceptual synergy between the manmade and the natural. Thus a solution of management is illustrated through symbiotic systems and a solution revealed.

Images # 33-37, "Resource Resist" 2010-2012

Outdoor Installation
Concrete and steel
40' x 80'
      like many of my works, Resource Resist functions as an inversion of the natural environment to the unnatural through design. The installation consists of sixteen concrete pavers cast from four different terrains found on the outskirts of the Tucson city-limits, BLM or open range areas. Each mold is cast as a concrete paver upon-which various additional cast environmental forms are added. In this way, a material exchange is evident and the viewer is confronted with the equation in a physical form. If we focus on the feature of the barrel cactus, the natural organism or signifier of life that would be commonly found in this location, the feature has been replaced with human intent/function. The objectification of the living through artistic arrangement and aesthetic garden-scapes further creates a sense of unease in the displacement and environmental impact questioning our value of nature.

Images # 38-39,  "Respirator" 2009

Concrete, air filters, and steel;
24' x 18'
       As an exploration of symbolic equations, the Respirator installation deals with a notion of organic/inorganic parallels. In this example, the air purifier that naturally resides in the desert, the saguaro cactus, is removed from the exterior environment and brought inward as a modern technological device by being made entirely out of air conditioner filters. The intent of the forms is to create a truly alien landscape that is accepted by its representation of organic life.

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