Letha Wilson expands the boundaries between photography and sculpture by questioning how a photograph can be physically engaged. She trades the traditional confines of a photographic image by merging them with industrial materials like concrete, zinc, aluminum or steel. In doing so, she questions the duality between the natural landscape and our industrial, synthetic society.
Artist(s) Letha Wilson
Venue GRIMM Gallery, Amsterdam
Proposing a new physical presence that has a life of its own beyond the original photograph, Wilson’s work is as much about its own material as the image that it was born from. The works in Cross Country contain photographs from sites in the American west that Wilson has recently traveled to, such as Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada and Zion National Park in Utah. Many of the photographs were taken this past winter when Wilson committed several trips exploring the environment of Nevada. The images show a variety of natural textures, from detailed, green close-ups that carefully reveal the veins of a fern or a conifer’s twigs, to majestic rock facades that reach beyond the horizon. Her exploration of this region renders a concentration of colors ranging from deep green to the brown, ochre, red and even purple hues of stone. The photographs taken on site are later manipulated in the studio and printed on Corten steel. Some sculptures fluently mirror the lines of the pictured landscape, while others contain sharp geometric forms which produce an interplay of shadow and light on the images.
The works in Cross Country are a continuation of Wilson’s free-standing outdoor sculptures, but on a smaller, more intimate scale that the viewer can physically relate to. The artist has implemented UV-printing which allows the works to be installed outside and engage directly with the elements and nature. As the patinas change over time due to various weather conditions, the natural world will act as a co-creative force on the form of these artworks. Color and form are explored in works that are welded, folded, bent, perforated and cut, alluding to Wilson’s control of material and space; their final textures referring back to natural terrains. Through these gestures, Wilson creates abstract works that speak to our complex relationship with nature.
Read more about Letha Wilson in Tique #3: Six Questions.