August 2011 we exhibited Pamela Merory Dernham and Walter James Mansfield side by side in Emergent Behavior. Six years later we are most excited to bring these two artists together again in This Land We Share, a show that explores physical, personal, imagined, social, and political landscapes.
Walter James Mansfield returns to the natural world as a source of inspiration. Mansfield takes the viewer on a tour de paint traversing explorations of poured paint, in search of harmonizing perspectives through imagined filters, melding together his observations from his favorite California, Montana, and Utah landscapes. What is reflected back to the viewer is a deep understanding of the metaphysical powers of landscape.
” I look to nature and the natural environment as a source of inspiration and a point of contemplation for my work. I find these natural landscapes provide a context for meaning in life, and a sense of where we came from, yet many of our most iconic landscapes are in danger of being diminished or altered beyond repair by human activities.”
—Walter James Mansfield, exhibition statement (2017)
Wire sculptor Pamela Merory Dernham’s developments toward more expressive figures are made apparent by a physical shift of the expressions of gesture. Dernham has taken the liberty of diving deep into expressing humanity, narrating landscapes filled with social psychological interactions that allow the viewer the opportunity to cast their own narratives.
“The two new bodies of work that I created for this show are about landscapes that are physical, social, and political. They were inspired in part by my lifelong pleasure in finding human forms in the natural world. They are shaped by the angst I feel about recent events in the human world.
The horizontal landscapes use facial profiles made from steel strips to suggest the undulations of the land. The land is literally a witness to our actions. These landscapes are also a stage, which I’ve peopled with performative figures that are minimally detailed so as to emphasize their gestures.
Two of the horizontal sculptures are intended as commentary on our political moment. In “Fiddling While Rome Burns”, the progression of the landscape from red to yellow embodies the increasing heat and danger from the chaos in our country. The figures in this piece ignore the warnings under their feet, seeking distractions rather than facing harsh realities.
Landscapes are the spaces in which we act out our progress as human beings. We write their future with our social, technological, and environmental choices. Will we preserve and enhance them? Or will we destroy them?
I dedicate this show to my friend Mari Marks, a brilliant and moving artist, and a passionate human being.”
—Pamela Merory Dernham, exhibtion statement (2017)