I recently returned from a week’s trip back West. I am from New Mexico, and the landscape of the Southwestern United States is my ur-landscape—the space underlying all my experiences of space. These landscapes bellow out the slow drama of large and mighty processes: uplift; slipping; erosion. In the East, where I live now, the landscape is more about the faster but still inexorable forces exerted by humans on the land. The heavy cover of vegetation around here hides the slow earth energy buried in rocks. In my new works I am using the objects I have worked with for years: plant objects; animal objects; human objects. Now I am making landscapes with them. Landscape is the theater of vast forces and we move across the stage as participants and watchers. The artist is the kind of watcher who gathers and transforms the symbols of vast processes—the props and the costumes—and creates productions that participate with the landscape—allowing it to become self-similar—because the landscape absorbs all of this into itself like a vast, slow, ornamented wheel.
Like most of my work, this new piece will likely be part of a series. Please click on the image and enlarge on a desktop monitor, scroll to the left, so you can see what I am trying to get at here. As a landscape it can be seen as a whole, but it can also be experienced as a series of cropped views. I was inspired by a task suggested to me by a musician who was interested in my Celestial Bodies. He was looking for album art for his heavily layered and textured electronic music and he saw a similarity between our works. Since I am also a graphic designer, I knew I should first see what kind of format album art is in online nowadays. I discovered that it needs to work very small (phone screen) or it could be larger (print or large screen) and also appears in different proportions, square in some places and elsewhere rectangular. It seemed a daunting task to make something that flexible from my work’s highly detailed images. I knew a Celestial Body would not be readable at postage-stamp size! Then I was listening to his music in Spotify and noticed the sound histogram, or whatever it is called, and it looked like a landscape to me, a landscape through time. And that made me think about how we move through a landscape and capture bits of it as we pass through. So I thought I would make a layered and complex space using objects and I could crop different parts for different uses. During April I took a trip with my family and we drove quite a bit in Colorado and Utah. I am still digesting my experience of landscape from that time, in that place, and it is informing these landscapes of objects I am making here, in this time. I hope to get on the road again soon! Meanwhile, visit my Instagram @LedaBlackArtist to see my posts as I process that trip and trips to come.