letters to Ohio, 2011

Originally shown in St. Mary's, Ohio, this body of work is about the longing for and the romantic ideals attached to landscape; specifically bodies or water. I was motivated by the issue of toxic algea in St. Mary's Grand Lake, among other stories of contaminated water. I was also motivated by own fond memories of Midwestern lakes and rivers. Water is a mysterious medium—changing from a solid to liquid to gas in the right conditions—which mirrors the kind of mental shape shifting produced by memory. Like the substance they are filled with, bodies of water are also often things of mystery and magic, with stories of bottomless lakes, primordial soup, and the Loch Ness Monster. The romance of the aquatic landscape, however, is often at odds with the realities of the natural world. Nature is messy, unpredictable, violent, and even dangerous. Yet we long for it, want to be near it, and love to see pictures of it. That contradiction between reality and memory, between accurate representation and the fuzzy romantic image was at the forefront of my mind when creating this work. I used watercolor to suggest not only the nature of water itself, but also the nature of our flawed memories and mythical stories. The text included with each painting is pulled from literature, technical books, and personal writings; including, Thoreau’s Walden, Shelley’s poem "Arethusa", and The Great Gatsby. Oftentimes our sympathy for nature, our desire to be “green” and protect our environment is provoked by romanticized ideas of it. Beautiful and idyllic scenes of rivers and lakes can remind us to protect our fragile resources so they can continue to inspire tall tales and sublime pictures for many years to come.