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Answering Earth



found object, ceramics/glass, sand, salt

dimensions variable (approx. 5x14x8') 

Caroline Hatfield


I explore landscape as medium, rather than subject. Depicting strange, desolate environments and sublime forces, my work references the abstracted, altered land of our world while shifting outward to a science-fictional realm. Landscapes composed of industrial references, geological formations, and mutable material accumulate into form and emanate an energy of transformation and process. Elemental models, miniatures, and depictions of alternative ground are found in the balance of presence and absence, creation and destruction, artificial and organic, potential and waste.

As an artist using imagery and concepts involving landscape, I am conscious of the reference to environmentalism and land use. Growing up in a Southern Appalachian community, I note the region’s juxtaposition of protected wilderness and mined land as a major influence on my work. The sub-narrative of land use, value, and ownership is one the viewer may find beneath the glimmering matter of my work. To do this, I reference several modes of the sublime: the human, industrial sublime that transforms our surroundings, nature’s sublime we find in geological time or vast vistas, and the future sublime of expanding possibilities, the infinity of space, and innumerable worlds. It is important to look critically at our relationship to land in terms of resources, environmental preservation, and history. I hope my work may expose the tensions, limits, and dangers of this relationship, as well as the potential for reform, reimagining, and awareness.

In recent work, I am exploring our mediation of the environment; the means of navigating and categorizing to produce pathways, boundaries, and borders. ​Impart ​(2020)​ ​utilizes the common gesture of a fence line - paired with a fictional ground of miniature ceramic craters and sand to imply geological activity. The installation forms a stretching, glimmering valley that shrinks beneath the fence - subverting scale and defying function. This work explores our relationship to landscape with the assertion that it is fundamentally collaborative (a field and a fence arise mutually), while presenting questions of land-ownership and environmental stewardship.

'Answering Earth' archives 15 artworks displayed in the virtual exhibition Answering Earth— organized by Rural Midwest Artist Collective, with guest juror Jason Brown (@miningthelandscape). The exhibition called for any media concerned with the subject of land-use. 

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