• A Terrain of Grandeur

    Date posted: October 6, 2008 Author: jolanta
    My studio practice includes a constant process of research and response to natural events and phenomena that captivate me. They serve as an impetus to weave these seemingly isolated events into a larger contextual tale. I am especially interested in how the landscape and weather systems are altered by the human hand, the driving social attitudes that guide those decisions, and the aftermath of those alterations in terms of natural hybridization and human lifestyle shifts. This process of research began with an interest in the history of the Midwestern suburban landscape and culture from my youth, where the middle class idea of “the good life” fueled a massive overhaul of the American landscape that would drastically alter how we live for generations to come. Image

    Aili Schmeltz

    Image
    Aili Schmeltz, The Magic City, 2008. Nails, string, and wood, variable dimensions, installation. Courtesy of the artist.

    My studio practice includes a constant process of research and response to natural events and phenomena that captivate me. They serve as an impetus to weave these seemingly isolated events into a larger contextual tale. I am especially interested in how the landscape and weather systems are altered by the human hand, the driving social attitudes that guide those decisions, and the aftermath of those alterations in terms of natural hybridization and human lifestyle shifts. This process of research began with an interest in the history of the Midwestern suburban landscape and culture from my youth, where the middle class idea of “the good life” fueled a massive overhaul of the American landscape that would drastically alter how we live for generations to come.

    The mid-century era continues to influence my work through cultural artifacts and materials, such as string art and nogahide. They address the triumph of the artificial, the antiseptic, and the arcane as the anthropological totems of our times, while serving as emblems that speak to the dualities inherent in the suburban landscape as hideous and seductive, kitsch and homey, humorous and heartbreaking.

    My most recent body of work examines my fascination and love/hate relationship with the city of Los Angeles, where I currently live. Los Angeles has a sordid environmental history as a strange apocalyptic theme park. Its plush, manicured landscape is a reminder of both a forced growth in an otherwise desert geography, and as a monument to man’s ingenuity made possible by diverting an unfathomable amount of water from distant sources. I am fascinated by the hybridized structures and blatant artifice of the city in both its natural and man-made environments where hilltop homes float precariously overhead on earth that has a topographical complexity of embedded catastrophe.

     

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