The Oregon Outback

It's been a while since I've been back from my time spent at PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon. I jumped right back into my "normal" life and haven't spent much time reflecting on my experience. I am so grateful for the time and space that I had while I was there and the amount of focus and attention to my work that it afforded me. In my normal day-to-day, I rarely get that kind of time to truly go in depth with my work and to find the mental space that a residency allows.

Now that I have my own studio space that I can come to (when I carve out the time--mostly on weekends), I've started to play around more with some of the things that I started while at PLAYA. While there, I spent lots of time exploring the landscape and letting that influence my work. I continued working with cyanotypes out in the landscape and experimented with bleaching and toning a bit more, as well as using the fabric to sew garments and flags.

 My studio wall while in residency at PLAYA, 2017

My studio wall while in residency at PLAYA, 2017

After the wet winter we had last year, there was still quite a bit of water in Summer Lake. It hadn't dried out yet and turned into a playa and I was super intrigued by the changing weather and light over the water. I couldn't resist getting in and testing out the depth and distance and decided to make a video work that played off of the perceptual illusion that water in the desert can create. (The water wasn't too deep but the mud was so sticky, you can see me struggle with balance a few times in the video as I try to pull my boot out of it.)

 Still from the video  Entering into the Landscape , 2017

Still from the video Entering into the Landscape, 2017

Now that I am back home and in my studio, I have been experimenting with cyanotypes that are landscape based and use multiple techniques that I have been interested in: digital transfer combined with cyanotype that is then bleached in various ways. I am also using digital negatives to create impression and texture in the cyanotype. The results have been pretty exciting and I am planning on trying to work with some different materials and paper to create the final images on. I will continue to work on some of this during my upcoming residency in Silver City.

 From left: cyanotype (with digital transfer) being exposed; cyanotypes after being washed; cyanotypes after being bleached, 2018

From left: cyanotype (with digital transfer) being exposed; cyanotypes after being washed; cyanotypes after being bleached, 2018

Arctic Adventures

The new work that I am getting ready to exhibit at The Holland Project in July is all based on the time I spent in the Arctic Circle in the summer of 2015. I've previously done a little work from all of the amazing footage, images, and experiences that I gathered there but I haven't had time to truly dedicate to it until now. 

 From aboard the tall ship  Antigua,  June 2015

From aboard the tall ship Antigua, June 2015

Almost a year after I returned, I had the opportunity to write a piece for Our Arctic Nation, a year-long blog sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Each week featured a posting from a different state and their connection to the Arctic--I was the representative for Nevada. If you missed the blog, you can read it here: The Art of Arctic Elements Through the Eyes of a Native Nevadan. 

I am excited to get back to the images and video that I did there and address some of the things that I was thinking about while there (I write a bit about this in my post for Our Arctic Nation). It’s intriguing to see how things like travel and these types of experiences influence me and my work. The time spent on that ship with 28 other artists was brief and very concentrated. Yet, because we had no connection to the outside world at all, it felt like a piece out of time, much longer than 2 weeks, otherworldly. The effects can be really subtle and subconscious and not come to the surface for a long time after.

There are the obvious immediate effects like the incredible landscape and the light for 24 hours that makes you crazy. And the story about the polar bear and her cub or seeing blue whales for the first time or skinny dipping in near freezing water near the 80th parallel.

But, it’s the other stuff that comes up—weeks, months or years later that becomes really exciting and valuable as you start to synthesize and process your experiences. They become ingrained and meshed into each other, creating more nuanced and layered connections and meaning.

  Of Light and Wind , double-exposed Polaroid, 2015/2017

Of Light and Wind, double-exposed Polaroid, 2015/2017

A lot of my work has to do with human relationship to the environment, how we interact with the environment, how we form those connections, the action of moving through or being in a place. In particular, the idea of mirages is something that I am interested in. I am interested in this because mirages are observable optical phenomena yet the images that they appear to represent are translated by the mind. Not a hallucination but, they are perhaps representative of desire or something else in the observer's psyche.

The light in the Arctic and the expanses of water and snow create ideal conditions for mirages—skewing perception of depth, distance, and scale. These are some of my ideas as I am working on the pieces for my upcoming exhibition.

 

The Story Behind the Photograph

 Sunset at Black Rock Point: June 7,   2016, 4:49 pm - 7:56 pm

Sunset at Black Rock Point: June 7, 2016, 4:49 pm - 7:56 pm

While on residency in the Black Rock Desert High Rock Canyon National Conservation Area last June, I traveled out to Black Rock Point to work on a video project. Earlier in the residency, I had found a small playa where I wanted to do some work. It was a clear day as I headed out, stopping along the way to gather some images with my camera.

I made it out to the little playa right around noon and started setting up for my video. The plan was to hang out there making work until sunset when the light would be right for my video. The wind started to pick up and a group of clouds starting moving from the west toward where I was working. They started to gather into a small storm that was moving east and north. I kept my eye on them, thinking they would miss the little playa and blow over. However, within minutes, it started sprinkling. I decided to drive up to higher ground just in case it got worse, which turned out to be a good idea. The rain started to come down harder and, just like in the cartoons, it looked like the storm was just a microcell concentrated right over me. I drove down further to Black Rock Springs where I knew I would have to wait it out. 

 The storm over the Black Rock (left) and during the storm at Black Rock Point (right). Notes from my sketchbook: "1:30-ish, pouring rain. Let up briefly for 10 or 15 minutes. Thunder and hail right over Black Rock Point. 2:33, still raining."

The storm over the Black Rock (left) and during the storm at Black Rock Point (right).
Notes from my sketchbook:
"1:30-ish, pouring rain. Let up briefly for 10 or 15 minutes. Thunder and hail right over Black Rock Point. 2:33, still raining."

At that point, the ground was getting saturated and streams of water were making their way down the dirt road, making it impassible. I knew I would have to stay put and wait for the ground to dry enough before I attempted to leave so that I wouldn't get stuck--the playa turns to clay when wet. In the meantime, the storm cleared around 3 pm and the sun mostly returned. It was too wet to get back to the little playa to record video so I set up my tripod and photographed the changing light on Black Rock Point while enjoying the view. I ended up spending the night in my car and had to wait 24 hours before I was able to drive out--even then, it was a little touch-and-go (but that's another story).