Landscape Artists

a. I also think my work shares a significant connection to contemporary landscape artists. Today, Landscape is recognized as a constructed phenomenon. Humans project social, cultural, economic, and political histories onto the raw matter of the world.

b. Ginger Strand in his essay At the Limits: Landschaft, Landscape and the Land says, “power and politics trail in landscapes wake, because land itself is never un-ideological—at least not once humans begin to take its measure. Before long it is not even natural.”

c. Second Nature? (Cicero)
i. nature that has in some way been transformed. Second nature is all that exists now, and the wilderness is all but a myth. I think my work talks to these points, that nature and the built world are intertwined.
ii. Wilderness Myth
iii. Shows up in my material composition: PLYWOOD!!
iv. Seen as Optimistic: Love Story

d. I think there are significant connections to artists like Kevin Jack Bell who’s landscape paintings explore how humans transform the world to their needs, or Mary Mattingly’s SWALE, in which she creates an organic garden on a barge in New York City.
i. Kevin Jack Bell: Doing a similar thing to me: (formally, yes) but also conceptually, presenting the contemporary landscape as he understands it. Not making too many judgments. Reflecting.
ii. Mary: Not a landscape artist but is pushing that urban/human/nature connection, and trying to create real change outside of traditional systems.

Thinking: Landscape


a. Why so balanced?
i. I aestheticize the relationship between natural and built elements,
ii. In many ways I read this piece as a utopia, a projection of how we want our systems to succeed in organizing the natural and built environment.
iii. Maybe if we can compartmentalize everything in the right way, or can find some way to live in harmony with the environment, it will all be okay???

b. Is there something more? Do you think it will all be okay??
i. Reading this piece as a utopic thing is valid.
ii. but I also wanted to hint at something beyond that, because in real life, these organizational structures, these systems, are failing.

c. Personal Annectdote!!! How are things failing?
i. Wildfires/cheatgrass/climate change: Over the past year I worked for The Nature Conservancy (large nature corporation) on a project that was trying to combat cheatgrass: an invasive weed that is causing huge and rapidly growing wildfires across the Western United States. For years the government agencies have been throwing millions and millions and millions of dollars at this problem, trying to extinguish these fires, and reseed burned acreage. The Nature Conservancy’s plan involves this same strategy: spend millions of dollars on reinventing seeding methods for grass and sagebrush to try to douse this surface level problem.
ii. (easy to point fingers, but that’s the system we live in, that’s how we deal with problems)
iii. I see this situation as humans trying to patch a leak in a series of larger failures – in this case: the consequence of overgrazing and monoculture farming and restoration, now being exacerbated by its root cause: changing climate.
iv. Working on such a difficult restoration problem definitely pushed me toward thinking of this piece as a dystopic, or at least made me want to hint at that pessimism I had.

Thinking: Utopia/Dystopia


a. Why plywood?
i. I use plywood because of the weird in-between state it represents.
ii. The wood in this piece is predominantly logged and processed by Boise-Cascade. Trees are logged from their forest homes in the Northwest and trucked into facilities for processing.  Their trunks are unrolled by rotating the log along a long sharp blade. This shaved portion is steamed, flattened, and laminated into thicker sheets. Plywood exists between the more artificial particle boards like MDF, and the more natural hard and soft timber slabs and boards.
iii. Plywood still holds a memory of nature, but is completely removed from its original form. The material holds this relationship between the natural and artificial very nicely. For this reason, I use plywood as the backbone within which I integrate different material components: concrete, plants, and rusted steel.

b. Is concrete similar?
i. concrete is similar: cement (the chemical substance that binds all the chunks together creates a paste with water that binds with sand and rock to harden.
ii. Cement, is manufactured
iii. While rock and sand is pulled from the earth, ground to a size, and distributed.

c. What about the lights, plants, rusted steel?
i. Lights, are powered by some form of nature
ii. Plants are I guess typically considered nature?? But like they’ve been shipped and bred and sustained by this artificial life boat.
iii. Steel: products of the earth, transformed into steel, then rusting away and transformed through natural processes.

Thinking: Materials