Land, Sea, Air
Permanent Collection Exhibition
November 8, 2014 to October 25, 2015
The works on paper featured in this exhibition are depictions of landscape that, taken together, encourage us to think about the traditional definition of the term in different ways. Waterways and larger bodies of water play an increasingly important role in our awareness of ecological issues and artists have responded to this in multiple ways.
Since the late 1960s, Michelle Stuart has created work that stems from her lifelong interest in the natural world and the universe. In Materia Prima II, the artist suggests a journey, in this case to the Galápagos Islands as she uses dirt from the island as an artistic medium, and documents her journey there in black-and-white photographs. The architect Norman Jaffe was best known for his modernist houses built at the juncture of land and water. His drawing for a house on the Montauk cliffs captures the drama and romance that have made his work such an important influence in 20th-century architecture. Ellen Phelan turned to landscape in the 1970s to concentrate on what she has called “the situation of the body in outdoor space.” In her drawing of Montauk she shifts between abstraction and representation using gouache, a watercolor medium that allows for greater control of the image. Although Tidewater is a specific title, April Gornik’s imposing large-scale charcoal drawing is less a precise location and more a place of the imagination. Diane Tuft’s mysterious image comes from her travels to Antarctica made possible by a 2012 National Science Foundation grant. While there she recorded the ever-changing environment by making photographs of the natural world seen through both the infrared and ultraviolet light spectrum—what the naked eye cannot see.
“There’s an apocryphal tale that Turner lashed himself to a ship’s mast,” notes photographer Clifford Ross, describes the 19th-century painter’s desire to capture the energy of the churning sea. When a storm approaches, Ross waits at Georgica Beach, and then wades into the water to record the hurricane at full force, secured only to his assistant back on shore. He has said he would be satisfied if these images prompted us to further question the man-made causes of such natural forces. Susan Meisel records the ever-changing sea in a more tranquil moment in the lyrical study Town Line Road. The natural beauty of the East End has been an inspiration for Tria Giovan as well, reminding us, as all these artists do, of the strength, beauty, and fragility of our environment.