Crossing Sublime (After After Nature)

details from three photo montages:
After Anne Ryan 1 (Performance with Window),
After Nature 1 (Performance with Spyglass)
and After Valentina Tereshkova 1(Performance with Star Trails)

            The exhibition and text of Crossing Sublime (After After Nature) began in tandem with my research for the collaborative exhibition Instinct Extinct: The Great Pacific Flyway. In addition to readings on bird migration, global and local conservation, climate change, extinction and eco-politics, fieldwork for that project reignited a love of wandering the wild. And I read too, works by those who wax poetic on these and other related matters including their own solitary walks into the more remote realms of nature.

W.G. Sebald’s three-part narrative poem After Nature suggested the structure for this project. Its first two sections reconsider the lives and works of painter Matthias Grunewald and biologist / explorer Georg Wilhelm Steller, respectively. The third section is composed in a variant of Sebald’s own voice. This triptych engendered the idea to write and perform artworks through three alternate personae. 

My comprehension of Sebald’s text as a collective meditation on the inter-relatedness of materiality and transcendence substantiated analogous themes in my own work. A subsequent review of the sublime as a subject in visual art suggested a questionably gendered perspective. Yet, transcendental experiences are not conditioned upon difference. These questions prompted a re-examination of my experiences as a maker and as a wanderer along with a parallel exploration of the sublime. Instead of nature’s grandeur, I would consider its mundanity; instead of expansion, I would explore contraction.

Of my three subjects the first two are artist Anne Ryan and cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. The less rooted aspect of myself is third. Ryan, as one who maintained an almost miniaturist approach to working with commonplace materials exemplifies a profound relationship to the sublime everyday. Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to orbit the earth, was a bona fide participant in a significantly heroic and expansive form of exploration. Yet, her experiences and observations tended towards the circumspect and in contrast to those of her male counterparts, vastly underestimated. 

The Sacramento State Research and Creative Activity Faculty Awards Program supported this project including visits to The Smithsonian Archive of American Art, the Russian Cultural Centre and my own ramblings around California. Sacramento State's Department of Art supported the exhibition of the work, which took place at the Robert Else Gallery, Jan - Feb., 2017.

The PDF book

Crossing Sublime (After After Nature), includes the writing and reproductions of all of the art works.

The PDF document
Research Notes includes background information and my bibliography.


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