These drawings, Untitled (Algae) and Untitled (Matoaka) re-create from memory the experience of being in the landscape I see outside my studio window, the same one I walk in each day with my dog. The way in which our memory registers spatial relationships tends toward a physical as opposed to purely perceptual knowledge of the space. This allows for an experiential response that is separate from perception. These drawings are just over seven-feet long, placing the viewer within the space of the drawing as a participant rather than as a passive viewer.
The page of a drawing provides finite environments that allow me to grapple with spatial difficulties within a fixed site. The landscape I find myself within has always had a radical impact on how I understand both myself within the world and the objects that inhabit that world.
Elizabeth Mead, Untitled (Algae)
Elizabeth Mead, Untitled (Matoaka)
When asked about her inspiration and concept for the above works Elizabeth Mead had this to say:
I begin with a notion of place. I grew up at the ocean and I understand my place in the world with the ocean to the right of me. This is how I have always grounded myself physically in the world. Overtime it has also become a compass—a mental space as well as physical location. I need a clarity, both mental and physical, to both operate and function in the world.
In this work I am talking about landscape and how we can know it.
Years ago I was in Wyoming where I found the landscape incomprehensible until I began trying to draw it. I found that if I took large sections of the landscape and made them into a single thing—so a section of landscape became in the end one thing on the page, albeit a large thing—my experience of the landscape began to coincide with my perception of it. The seven-and-a-half foot drawings enveloped me like my experience of the landscape.
The two drawings here are what I see outside the window of my studio, which overlooks Lake Matoaka. The algae forms every spring and has this really interesting way of collecting along the edges of the lake. I look down on the lake, and from above it appears as though the algae is a surface form but it actually goes down under the water for quite a distance. I was really struck by how much form it actually possessed. The drawing was about making it a form as opposed to a surface. The other drawing is the view of the lake when you lie down in a canoe and peer over the canoe wall, trying to make your eyes level with the surface of the water. The center of the drawing, where I left the page “empty” was to insert myself into the space of the drawing. The canoe I was in is that space.
Both works are available for purchase at the Gallery.