Unfit for Consumption by Kaitlyn Schwalje

1. Unfit for Consumption, clay, moss and wood, 20x20x32 inches, 2017

This work is inspired by the following true disaster story:

In March of 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck offshore near Tokyo. A tsunami triggered by the earthquake then crashed ashore Japan’s Pacific coastline. Water soon flooded the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant causing multiple explosions and radioactive leakage. Over 200,000 people were evacuated from the surrounding area. As people left the area some wildlife began to thrive including the wild boar. Immune to the radiation and with few natural predators its population soon skyrocketed and the species began threatening neighboring farmland. Residents now hunt the boar and bury the radioactive meat at three mass graves 35 miles from the plant.


Kaitlyn Schwalje is the daughter of a safety engineer. When catastrophe strikes, her father enters the scene. When a factory worker’s hand is ground into a chicken processing machine or when someone slips down the stairs, he figures out why it happened and who was at fault. As a result, Kaitlyn received an education in disaster. Airplane crashes, assassination attempts, poisonings, and space shuttle malfunctions were all fodder for research. Together they looked at disasters not as isolated events but as products of human systems; believing that the way we fail and the way we react to failure speaks to a culture’s beliefs and behaviors. She is fascinated by the mechanisms that govern how everything works, from physical architectures to people and their behaviors.

Kaitlyn Schwalje holds degrees in physics and design. As a research associate at Walt Disney Imagineering she designed and constructed wearable haptic technologies. She is currently a contributing producer at WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show. Kaitlyn’s work has appeared in Hi-Fructose, Wired, The Creators Project, Fast Company, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.