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Peripheral Geographies
After many years living in other locations, I have recently returned to the Western United States, the landscape of my youth.   The American West of my memories seems disturbingly different than the developed, suburbanized reality of the contemporary environment.  The familiar outline of the mountain range is still visible, but we are no longer in the natural areas that have historically defined the West.  Instead we experience it at a distance, from the mundane in-between places at the edge of the cities.  Out here in the parking lot and along the road is our chosen perspective.  Even though our contemporary landscape is different, imbedded are certain values long associated with the West.

Travel is an essential tradition, from homesteaders crossing to Oregon, to dust bowl farmers escaping to California.  On the aptly-named freeway, perhaps the ambivalent associations with movement finds a contemporary equivalent: there is a similar sense of optimism, anonymity, possibility, independence and suspension of responsibilities.  The rest areas and gas stations along the road provide comfort, sustenance and familiarity in a new place.  But in travel there is also the feeling of dislocation, loneliness and searching.  Personal identity, time and place become negotiable and slippery.  Our contemporary landscape is built for mobility and as such, it connects us to the long heritage of movement across the West.

In this work I have tried to render the man-made with the same degree of care as a more traditional, nature-based landscape image.  It is odd to find as much sympathy with car roofs and restrooms as with meadows, mountains and streams.  Admittedly, these places are not beautiful in a traditional sense, but my aim is not to condemn or ridicule what we have created. We are both attracted and repulsed by these unintentional places. Our landscape is constructed by us, and as such is a reflection of our conflicting desires and wishes.



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