ARCTIC ABRASIONS

Elaine Spatz-Rabinowitz's avatar Elaine Spatz-Rabinowitz Vote Code: 66552

In 2013 I returned from an artists residency on a tall sailing ship in the Arctic Circle with over 2,000 digital photographs. They recorded a place of searing beauty and isolation, extraordinary color, and more evidence of human industrial activity than I’d expected to see, from an abandoned Russian coal mining town to remnants of a marble quarry. Being a painter first and foremost I struggled to find a way to use the information in my photographs, but create objects that would breathe as tactile, haptic images, speaking in the intimate language of surface. I searched to find a way to force a bond between photography and painting. These works were made by transferring my original digital photographs onto bas reliefs cast in Hydrocal (a dense plaster). In their making, the reliefs are abraded and disrupted according to the image they will receive -- a metaphoric strategy to address the dissolution, disappearance, and demise of the Arctic's glaciers. In each case, my transferred image acts as an underpainting, which is completely painted over in oil. Or is it? One of the most interesting things to me is the hybrid nature of the work, which serves to destabilize our experience of viewing it: what are we looking at, painted stroke or digital pixel?

Entry Details
  • Art form: 2-D
  • Depth: 2.25 inches
  • Medium: Oil on transferred photo on Hydrocal
  • Width: variable
  • Year created: 1917
  • Height: variable