Mass Cultural Council and the New Art Center (NAC) will present the 2016 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellows in Painting, Choreography, Drawing & Printmaking, and Traditional Arts on September 16-October 15, 2016, at the NAC.
Cristi Rinklin, one of the exhibiting artists, takes us on a visual exploration of landscape.
The landscape is a consistent motif throughout my work. Rather than being a faithful representation of the natural world we inhabit, it becomes a manifestation of desire and memory imposed upon by the artifice of technology. My recent work situates the landscape as a contemplative space that invites the viewer to explore within. While there is lush beauty here, there is also a conspicuous human absence in these uninhabited, detached fragments that float in ambiguous, abstract spaces. Much in the way that memories exist in fragments with gaping voids of lost information, these landscapes hover in state of dreamy and melancholy suspension, as if these apparitions are all that is left of a world that no longer exists. This sense of uncertainty and detachment is a persistent symptom of our contemporary condition of facing an unknown future.
Drastic changes such as urban expansion, forest fragmentation, strip-mining and fracking physically disrupt and alter the natural world and threaten its very existence. A concept that was recently introduced to me called “solastalgia” perfectly articulated what I have been intuitively exploring in my recent work. This term, coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht in 2003, describes a form of existential distress caused by environmental changes such as mining or climate change. This term beautifully describes the psychological response I intend to evoke from my audience. The painting “Displaced” provides a vivid example of this condition.
Here we see an aerial view of a fragment of forest surrounded by flood waters. The colors are muted and diffused, as if seen through the atmospheric veil of distance. The flat, icy blue, hard-edge shape that references the water on which the landscape sits, simultaneously becomes a cloud-like shape that overtakes the space in another passage. The emptiness of this stark, flat shape in this otherwise illusionistic space evokes gaps in memory or stored data that threaten to overtake or erase the scene. The combination of tangible realism, abstraction, and ambiguity are intended to disrupt the viewer’s ability to ground or position himself in any particular time or space. It is as if these images are the echoes of fragmented memories that hover in a post-human existence. While the notion of a post-human world may have disturbing implications, I also find poetic beauty in the idea that life and consciousness may exist outside of human experience, and that all this will persist, with or without our participation.
See Cristi Rinklin’s work at the upcoming exhibition 2016 Mass Cultural Council Artist Fellows in Painting, Choreography, Drawing & Printmaking, and Traditional Arts. Opening Reception: Friday, September 16, 6-8 PM. New Art Center, 61 Washington Park Newtonville, MA, 02460
Image credit: All images courtesy Cristi Rinklin.