air wind sand water
by Mona Marshall
September 7 - October 26, 2013
This project started with a coastline. I have been thinking about coastlines, and more generally about the boundaries of our own knowledge of the world.
From land, gazing at the surface of the water, what we see is space and light, much the same as humans saw hundreds of years past. Standing on that coastline we have no way of knowing from sight what we do not know.
"Coast", a drawing made of 2' x 2' panels, is based on the perspective of a Chinese scroll which gives the viewer walking past the sense of walking through a landscape. The configuration of panels depends on the space available and there are many configurations possible. There are missing panels, questions unanswered. The drawing resists completion.
All my life I have imagined land from above so I begin the Boundary studies from the air. I look for topographies that raise questions. I was at first looking for the edges of developments which are sometimes left unfinished, a consequence of diminished means or interest. Now I find dry river beds everywhere, and find the residual traces of failed fields ominous. Texas has been in a drought for years now, and inevitably the drawings have become about the absence of water.
Humans everywhere build walls and fences, and those structures are undermined by the passage of time and power of nature. If you follow the Great Wall of China to its far western point you find what is left of it slowly crumbling into the ground. I used to think of land as a static thing which can be measured and owned. I now know it to be constantly changing, bent by extreme weather and geological forces, marked by animals and humans and shaped by plants.
Being on the edge of another world gives us a sense of place, a known position on a cognitive map. Boundaries assure us of our "place" in the larger environment. While we find comfort in standing on land, or at the center of our known world, understanding and insight often happen at the edge. Our culture compels us to divvy up the land into comprehensible chunks; a golf course, a yard, a gated community. These drawings are all about the territories we create for ourselves, and a fleeting glimpse of the immensity of what lies beyond. – mona marshall