Green River Star -

Landscape paintings take a different perspective

 


This month’s featured artist at the Community fine Arts Center is Lander artist Virginia Moore.

The show is currently on display with a closing reception scheduled for Aug. 29 from 2-4 p.m.

Moore’s work in her series “As Above, So Below” uses a new perspective on landscape painting as a way of exploring human’s relationship with the environment.

Rather than presenting the landscape from a traditional ground-based perspective, these works flatten the world into a pattern of shapes and colors by looking directly down at the earth’s crust. Feelings of romanticism and sentimentality normally associated with traditional landscapes are shifted to other aspects of the work, such as pattern, shape and color.

The work represents a modern interpretation of landscape painting, as the pieces utilize contemporary imagery only achievable through modern technology, either through aircraft or satellites. This imagery is becoming increasingly familiar to viewers, who often associate these pieces with “topographic maps.” Using that common understanding as a starting point, Moore is developing a “visual language” through which to communicate ideas about how humans manipulate, interact with, and depend on the environment around them.

Each painting reveals a complex pattern that is as unique to that geographical area as a fingerprint is to an individual. The patterns relate directly to how humans use and manipulate the earth’s crust, encouraging the viewer to make inferences about what it might be like to live in this specific place.  Is this an agricultural community, a small western town, or a wilderness area?  What abstract pattern creates the “fingerprint” for each?  The pattern as seen from above hints at the life and culture existing below.

Influenced by decorative design work present in both quilting and tiling patterns, Virginia creates compositions with no specific center, but rather a consistent pattern over the whole piece.  Through her chaotic yet orderly compositions, she seeks to capture the balance between chaos and order found in nature.

The earth’s crust is only a few miles thick, and yet, it is what humans most relate to and identify with, and provides for an incredible diversity of life. Every human culture is deeply influenced by its regional environment, and each culture also impacts its environment through land use. Even as people carve out the land, natural features such as rivers and mountains restrict them. Development must occur within the natural topography.

Looking at cultures through visible land-use patterns provides an interesting way to think about and understand the immense diversity of human culture and experience, and how they integrate with the landscape. These paintings are therefore also portraits of specific cultures as seen through their use of the land.

Also included in the show are several paintings focusing on wilderness. The subject matter is the Cirque of the Towers in Wyoming’s Wind River Wilderness, located near the artist’s home in Lander. These pieces offer a more traditional, ground-based perspective of the landscape, but relate to the larger abstract pieces through the vivid colors, and continued use of heavy texturing.

Moore was born and raised in Lexington, VA; a historic town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a girl, she was surrounded by artists in her small community, including photographer Sally Mann, who inspired Moore on a lifelong path of creative expression.  As a young woman, she moved west to the Rocky Mountains, living in the foothills of the Wind River Range in Lander. Moving farther north to the Canadian Rocky Mountains of Alberta, she studied the paintings of the Group of Seven and Tom Thompson. Since then, her subject matter has been influenced by artists exploring themes of land use, such as Ed Burtynsky and Pam Longobardi, as well as artists interested in decorative arts such as Joyce Kosloff.

Virginia was Artist in Residence at the Lander Art Center from January 2014 to June 2014 when she began developing her new work, “As Above, So Below.” Her work has shown throughout Wyoming, and was featured in the magazine Western Confluence, Winter 2015 edition, and on wyofile.com.

 

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