Development: The changing landscape
Faculty Sponsor: Victoria Star Varner
As inspiration for this series of paintings, I was intrigued by the concept of “developing” the land. This necessarily implies change, but even further it connotes improvement. I have completed ten paintings exploring humans’ relationship with the land and with their environments, a relationship which is extremely complex. We are awed by it, we destroy it, we idealize it, we alter it to fit our imagination, we buy and sell it, we use its resources, we create new environments in place of natural ones. We separate ourselves from it, yet we are always connected to it. I have attempted to represent how we alter the natural environment through development, commercialization, and expansion by highlighting both the natural and the human-made features within contemporary landscapes. These changing landscapes are a product, and in fact a continual process, of both creation and destruction, and I have tried to emphasize both aspects within my paintings.
In my representations of modern landscapes, I raised issues from suburban sprawl to resource conservation to agricultural production. A series of four small paintings depicts landscapes containing human-made objects which, while seemingly innocuous, are signs of larger development of the land taking place outside of what is shown. In isolating these objects within the natural environment, I want the viewer to question why such an object would exist in the environment shown, and if it should exist there at all.
Various sources inspired my work, including advertisements, plans for housing developments, and snapshots from the roadside. In viewing various environments I discovered that nearly every stretch of land I encountered was marked by human presence. The human creations and alterations within these landscapes reveal our society’s current perception of the purpose of the earth and they illuminate the existing relationship between people and the land as one in which humans assume the right to alter it, whether subtly or drastically, to fit purely human desires.