Compartmentalizing the way environments are constructed, measured, and grow, Where The Rain Seeps Through reflects a shifting balance between the natural world and built environment. Sections of material adapt a measured and contained aesthetic, while others resist this uniformity and reflect growth, variety, and decay. This tension characterizes the erosion and eventual failure of systems used to organize and quantify our world.
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.
a. I think there are some very immediate connections to contemporary sculptures, Phoebe Washburn and Jessica Stockholder. Both artists take an architectural and painterly approach to sculpture. I thought a lot more about interior/exterior space within this piece as a result of these two artists.
b. Minimalist Influence? (breeze through)
i. I think Minimalism in some ways informs my work, but I do not think that my work is a minimalist work. There is a very obvious connection to artists Dan Flavin and Frank Stella’s black paintings.
ii. Minimalist art is kindof an extending the abstract idea that art should have its own reality and not be an imitation of some other thing. I think my art kindof creates a tension between this minimalist “what you see, is what you see”, derive your meaning from the material, and more representation
a. IN THE END, I think that ambiguity is a strength, of the work.
i. Up to the viewer to bring that pessimism or optimism.
ii. I don’t (and can’t) know the state of the world.
iii. I can only reflect on my experiences and present how I feel.
b. Love Story: Helpful
i. The aestheticization is romantic.
ii. Thinking about the Apocolypse is romantic
iii. Viewing the work as the physical embodiment of a love story is a way for me to balance out the back and forth between pessimism and optimism.
Is this piece Dystopic?
a. Pessimism’s role?
i. I wanted to suggest that there are consequences to these systems, that we are organizing the world incorrectly – or even that these methods are themselves entirely wrong.
iv. Plants are gunna die (or already dieing)
v. Exposed systems
vi. Industrial foundation
b. Title’s role in Pessimism?
i. The title serves to highlight this leak or failure and give a somber tone to the work. That the dominance, exploitation, and strong-handed modification of natural systems is unsustainable and now these natural systems stand on the brink of a larger collapse.
ii. An excerpt from, Don DeLillo’s novel, The Names frames this contemporary pre-Apocolyptic tone that my title hints at, quite nicely,
iii. “There is always a period of curious fear between the first sweet smelling breeze and the time the rain comes cracking down.”
iv. The title, Where the Rain Seeps Through ultimately serves to hint at some sort of sublime awareness that these systems are/will fail. That ecological collapse is here, or already pounding on our door.
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.
Plants: Significant material component in my work and a defining factor in my process.
i. I started by growing species from the West -- annual and perennial bunchgrasses, clover, and alfalfa.
b. Significance of these species?
i. The plants I’ve used are often grown for restoration work, erosion control and water management, forage, as well as wildfire prevention and recovery.
ii. Links to west
iii. Links to Agriculture
iv. Links to restoration: human hand in landscape (why do we do these things?)
v. In the end, they are species that link the interests of people with nature.
i. What is your role?
ii. People as mediators between the natural and built world.
iii. What happens to the plants now?
iv. Finite life. Only exists as long as I maintain it.
Process & Formal Decisions
a. How did you build this in this room?
i. I have cut, grinded, sanded, molded these materials into this sweeping form.
ii. It was built in pieces and transported to the gallery
i. This ‘shloop’ of sorts evolkes a represents a few things for me, a wave (goes nicely with the title), alter (M), or un-rolled tree (references plywood), but generally, a sort of landscape (composed of components of varying degrees of artificial manipulation)
ii. The scale of the work is intended to create to create a panoramic atmosphere. It was important that it was architectural. I wanted it to feel like a structure. Doing so brought me back to those moments. Evoked urban spaces (but also the open sky of walla walla).
i. Lights: I wanted to use cool gray/blues because it characterized the in-between state of the sky at dusk. Likewise, the warm fluorescent lights hold the color of warm building and street lights, turning on at dusk.
ii. (formally) Mimicked Elsewhere: in the cool grays and warmth of the wood. Maintained a balance.
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.