Fault Lines examines the relationship between memory, landscape, and the sublime. Presented are three vignettes, each containing a sample of fictitious landscape composed of paint, powder, plaster, and dust. They are case studies of the sublime, where land is sectioned and studied –both in an act of preservation and protection.
The work is inspired by the San Jacinto Mountain Range and the fault that bears its name. This fault is considered one of the most seismically active in the area; the range’s steep elevation is a testament to this geologic activity. The constant shifting of the earth surrounding the fault has led to land ascending on one side and descending on the other. The shifting of this land is reminiscent of breathing: rising and falling, slow and steady.
The scenes vary from one vitrine to the next. The first: an ambiguous, quiet environment of powder and dust. The second: geological specimen placed under observation. The third: layers of strata piled on top of each other like glacial ice or desert terrain. A footnote accompanies each scene. They are verses pulled from the poem “Mount San Jacinto and Her 7-Mile Gain” by Anna Delgado, which alludes to the creation of the peak and the origin of its name. They read:
The sliced rocks in front of you are lungs.
Are the mountains not made of wind and water?
Our valley floor recedes beneath our feet.
The vignettes provide an opportunity to consider our relationship to the land, past and present. Unlike the shifting and disappearing landscapes surrounding us, the ones contained within the vitrines remain unchanged. They are synthetic geologies: a failed representation of the sublime and an unsuccessful attempt to preserve it.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Sydney Steen is a visual artist from Dallas, Texas. Steen creates paintings and sculptures inspired by geological formations, focusing specifically on how memory and perception shape definitions of landscape. She received her M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally. She currently resides in Durham, North Carolina.