Here I am, taking photos and videos of the installation of my art work in the Wyoming Arts Council’s Biennial Fellowship Exhibit Wyoming to the World at the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper. I really never thought I would be standing here, doing this. (Feeling overwhelmed. Honored. Wow!) Even though I’d applied for a fellowship several times, it still came as a surprise when my name was announced as a recipient of the 2016 award.
It’s always interesting to see how viewers interact with art at exhibits. My work doesn’t give answers and the objects in the installation photos aren’t familiar (I create them, they aren’t found objects). At the Wyoming to the World opening reception it was interesting to see people move to within inches of the wall to look at the small prints up close, bending over to see them, then back up to observe the large projections on loop. Seeing these interactions made me smile inside! That’s what I wanted viewers to do, and I hope they left with questions about what they had just seen, not answers. (Here’s one viewer’s perspective in Studio Wyoming Review via WyoFile.)
Seeing my work on exhibit is pretty thrilling, but to be honest, it also leaves me wanting more. For me art is the process not the product. When I’m making in my studio and out creating installations in the landscape I lose track of space and time around me — exhibits of my work just don’t take me to the same soul-stirring place. I am never completely satisfied with my work when I see it in a show and am always ready to move on.
Here’s my exhibit statement for Wyoming to the World:
Reflections on land and environmental issues and interactions with land art have inspired me to focus on installations that leave little trace on our much-scarred land. As we extract resources from the earth and capture sun and wind to power our modern reality — our industries, our homes, cars and gadgets — we leave scars. The objects I create in my studio are placed in the environment and removed within a matter of minutes. The process is intimate and ephemeral.
Carrying the objects to each location, I work with them in series, placing them in different environments to play with the interaction of elements at the site. The ubiquitous rhythms of utility poles, fence posts, and highway lines that march across the land inspire how I place the objects. I document the geographic coordinates, capture the moment with my camera, pack up the objects and leave.
I photograph the installations with perspectives that toy with the ambiguity of the objects’ sizes and the surrounding elements. On exhibit, small prints paired with large projections emphasize the ambiguity, suggesting the view I experience through my camera and referencing the overwhelming effect the vast landscape of the West leaves on a person.
Most of my installations have taken place in the middle of nowhere geographically, but the middle of nowhere is also a state of mind. I’ve installed objects in urban centers and felt the same sense of solitude I have in the vast prairie. The middle of nowhere has also manifest itself as a deep loneliness while I’m working, regardless of the geographic location.
For me the experience of creating these installations is a transcendent connection with the environment: I take many of the handheld images while on my knees or flat on the ground. I walk away with dirt, rocks, grass and weeds stuck to my clothes, skin and hair. For the viewer, my desire is that they walk away from the images with reflection about what they see, why it’s there and how we humans interact with the land.
These images are records of art that is here…then gone.