I began this project wanting to make a house for Baby, my pet and friend rat. I was struggling to figure out a way to define why I wanted to do this, first coming up with topics of luxury and excess in a socioeconomic context. I began designing an elaborate mansion for Baby, researching oceanfront properties and luxury estates. However, my research trajectory began to lead towards animal behavior, interspecies relationships, and ethical treatment of animals in art. I realized that the animal aspect of this project was more important to me than discussing consumer capitalism. This became more about my intense love for Baby and the need to care for someone in order to care for myself.
I reached a final design in the house with the intention of having Baby be able to be displayed in an open “playpen” with the ability to have a private space for herself. There are three levels: a carport-like entrance area, a “sun room,” and private attic space with an open balcony. My father helped me build “Baby Mansion” and we transported it from my home in Maryland to my home in Rhode Island. Baby’s house stood at the foot of my bed, acting not only as a space for herself, but as stairs to my own bed so she and I could spend time there. It was interesting watching her interact with that space, solely using the bottom level as a place to pass through and the top two levels as areas for rest. In its final installation, Baby Mansion was elevated by pedestals and contained a single projection of two home videos my father shot of me and my mother. The videos were projected behind the canvas that made up the roof to Baby’s attic, providing her with a warm ambience. On the balcony was her food and water, where she would periodically come to dine.