Two commissions in the past year have given me the chance to think about place and landscape. I took as the starting point for Inscribe (2010) the form of the tiny oxbowed prairie river that meandered by the farm where I grew up in Canada. I became captivated by this little river's marking of time: first, in the constant moment-to-moment flow that invites the floating of twigs and leaves, watching until they disappear around the bend; and second, the glacially paced century-by-century erosion that changes the river's form and path, ultimately creating the gorgeous yet self-defeating oxbows. To use Andy Goldsworthy's term, this oxbow I grew up on has definitely become one of my 'obsessive forms.'
Inscribe 2010 (detail)
The second project, Enfold, also involves water marking time.
Enfold was commissioned for a cottage on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada. With the highest tides in the world, there is a never-ending cycle of water rising and falling. This along with the highly changeable coastal weather patterns creates an extremely dynamic outdoor experience.
When established painter Byron Gin invited me to develop a 2-person exhibit at Uncommon Ground, we decided to use the local land/waterscape as our visual starting point and see where our two different media, styles and interests took us.
Lake Michigan has a very different function for me near my Evanston-based studio and home. There are no tides, no constant flow, nor pounding surf and only occasionally crashing waves. The lake is primarily about space and color/reflectance rather than time. In the Chicago area, the built environment borders the lake, containing and even encroaching on the lake's shoreline. At its margins, water reflects sky and splashes rock. It is these interactions at the boundaries that catch my attention.
Calling the show "Lake Effects," Byron and I have developed new pieces that clearly connect to one another with lake-inspired forms and restrained palettes of blues through grays and whites. In Byron's spare compositions we are invited to look again at familiar lakeshore objects and birds which float on textured, layered backgrounds. Abstracted from a complex landscape, these familiar forms take on new significance.
My work is similarly spare in composition, glass floating in cement board. My interest is in considering the function of the lake as a blank yet dynamic palette, marking the space between sky and land. As I focused on the blues of lake and sky, I was captivated by the limitless variations in blues and grays, sometimes changing moment-to-moment, sometimes day-to-day. Verge offers discrete views of moments in time, reading the lake as a transitional space: water at the verge of sky and land.