STRATIFYING THE UNKNOWN

Collaborative work between Clairissa and Colby Stephens

Chehalem Cultural Center- Parrish Gallery, Newberg, OR
April 30th- June 28th Gallery Hours: Tues - Sat | 9am - 6pm Contact me if you would like to schedule a meeting with me out there. 
Black Rock Point Horizon

Black Rock Point Horizon

Black Rock Point | 40.971732,-119.0035557 primed mill work installation dimensions vary 2019 Clairissa and Colby Stephens

Crystal Peak Horizon Line 360°

Crystal Peak Horizon Line 360°

144 quartz from crystal peak and thread installation dimensions vary 2014/ 2019

Crystal Peak Horizon Line 360°

Crystal Peak Horizon Line 360°

144 quartz from crystal peak and thread installation dimensions vary 2014/ 2019

Wall 1

Wall 1

Clairissa Stephens Black Rock Desert Waterlines | 12 Mile no. 2 Oil on Panel 10” x 20” 2019 Colby Stephens BRD Northward Photograph on watercolor paper 20” x 9 3/4” 2019 Colby Stephens BRD Southward Photograph on watercolor paper 20” x 9 3/4” 2019

Clairissa Stephens Black Rock Desert Waterlines | 12 Mile no. 2 Oil on Panel 10” x 20” 2019 Colby Stephens BRD Northward Photograph on watercolor paper 20” x 9 3/4” 2019 Colby Stephens BRD Southward Photograph on watercolor paper 20” x 9 3/4” 2019

Wall 2

Wall 2

Colby Stephens BRD Reflections 1 Photograph on watercolor paper 15 1/4” x 12” 2019 Clairissa Stephens Black Rock Desert Waterlines | 8 Mile Oil on Panel 7 1/2" x 10 7/8” 2018 Clairissa Stephens Black Rock Desert Waterlines | 3 Mile Oil on Panel 7 1/2" x 10 7/8" 2018 Colby Stephens BRD Reflections 2 Photograph on watercolor paper 15 1/4” x 12” 2019

Crystal Peak Horizon Line 360°

Crystal Peak Horizon Line 360°

144 quartz from crystal peak and thread installation dimensions vary 2014/ 2019

Mt Irish Wilderness | 37.42303, -115

Mt Irish Wilderness | 37.42303, -115

silverpoint on panel 2016 NFS Clairissa Stephens photograph and paper collage 2016 NFS Colby Stephens diatomaceous earth and paper in maple box 2016 NFS Clairissa and Colby Stephens

Mt Irish Wilderness | 37.42303, -115

Mt Irish Wilderness | 37.42303, -115

silverpoint on panel 2016 NFS Clairissa Stephens photograph and paper collage 2016 NFS Colby Stephens

Railroad Valley | 38.15927, -116.12087, diatomaceous earth and paper in maple box, 2016

Railroad Valley | 38.15927, -116.12087, diatomaceous earth and paper in maple box, 2016

Mt Irish Wilderness | 37.42303, -115

Mt Irish Wilderness | 37.42303, -115

silverpoint on panel 2016 NFS Clairissa Stephens

Mt Irish Wilderness | 37.42303, -115

Mt Irish Wilderness | 37.42303, -115

silverpoint on panel 2016 NFS Clairissa Stephens

Black Rock Point Horizon

Black Rock Point Horizon

Black Rock Point | 40.971732,-119.0035557 primed mill work installation dimensions vary 2019 Clairissa and Colby Stephens

Black Rock Point Horizon

Black Rock Point Horizon

Black Rock Point | 40.971732,-119.0035557 primed mill work installation dimensions vary 2019 Clairissa and Colby Stephens

Wall 3

Wall 3

Clairissa Stephens Black Rock Desert Study | 8 mile Watercolor and silver leaf on paper 7.5” x 7.5” 2018 Clairissa Stephens Black Rock Desert Study | 3 mile Watercolor and silver leaf on paper 7.5” x 7.5” 2018 Clairissa Stephens Black Rock Desert Study | 12 mile Watercolor and silver leaf on paper 7.5” x 7.5” 2018 Colby Stephens Earth Becomes Sky | Black Rock Desert 1 and Earth Becomes Sky | Black Rock Desert 2 Photograph on watercolor paper 20” x 13 1/4” 2019

Clairissa Stephens Black Rock Desert Study | 8 mile Watercolor and silver leaf on paper 7.5” x 7.5” 2018 Clairissa Stephens Black Rock Desert Study | 3 mile Watercolor and silver leaf on paper 7.5” x 7.5” 2018 Clairissa Stephens Black Rock Desert Study | 12 mile Watercolor and silver leaf on paper 7.5” x 7.5” 2018

Colby Stephens Earth Becomes Sky | Black Rock Desert 1 and Earth Becomes Sky | Black Rock Desert 2 Photograph on watercolor paper 20” x 13 1/4” 2019

Colby Stephens Earth Becomes Sky | Black Rock Desert 1 Photograph on watercolor paper 20” x 13 1/4” 2019

Crystal Peak Horizon Line 360°

Crystal Peak Horizon Line 360°

144 quartz from crystal peak and thread installation dimensions vary 2014/ 2019

Crystal Peak Horizon Line 360°

Crystal Peak Horizon Line 360°

144 quartz from crystal peak and thread installation dimensions vary 2014/ 2019

Black Rock Point Horizon

Black Rock Point Horizon

Black Rock Point | 40.971732,-119.0035557 primed mill work installation dimensions vary 2019 Clairissa and Colby Stephens

Center Wall

Center Wall

Colby Stephens Earth Becomes Sky | Summer Lake photograph on watercolor paper 2016 Clairissa Stephens field of view | black rock desert 1 silverpoint, graphite, playa clay and salt on panel 2016 Clairissa Stephens field of view | black rock desert 2 silverpoint, graphite, playa clay and salt on panel 2016 Clairissa Stephens Winter Ridge | Summer Lake 5.75” x 21.75” silverpoint drawing 2017 NFS

Colby Stephens Earth Becomes Sky | Summer Lake photograph on watercolor paper 2016 Clairissa Stephens field of view | black rock desert 1 silverpoint, graphite, playa clay and salt on panel 2016 Clairissa Stephens field of view | black rock desert 2 silverpoint, graphite, playa clay and salt on panel 2016 Clairissa Stephens Winter Ridge | Summer Lake 5.75” x 21.75” silverpoint drawing 2017 NFS

Colby Stephens Earth Becomes Sky | Summer Lake photograph on watercolor paper 2016 Clairissa Stephens field of view | black rock desert 1 silverpoint, graphite, playa clay and salt on panel 2016 Clairissa Stephens field of view | black rock desert 2 silverpoint, graphite, playa clay and salt on panel 2016 Clairissa Stephens Winter Ridge | Summer Lake 5.75” x 21.75” silverpoint drawing 2017 NFS

Earth Becomes Sky | Summer Lake, photograph on watercolor paper, 2016 Colby Stephens

Stratifying the Unknown - Artist Statement - Clairissa and Colby Stephens

 

Horizon lines separate the unknown from the known, the visible from the unseen, and the tangible from the intangible. A horizon line depicts the edge of terrestrial space, existing at the point of contact between earth and ether. 

 

The two-dimensional line delineating this division is a complex illusion composed of deep three-dimensional space. Horizons are often considered to exist “out there.” They are believed to be so distant and ever unreachable that it is hard to comprehend the myriad ways they tangibly affect one’s life. However, they are not out there, they are here. 

 

Much like a horizon line, life is lived at the point of contact between earth and sky. The work in this exhibition explores how illusions of horizons and lines shape our understanding of real spaces. Rooted in a study of the Oregon and Nevada deserts, and often referencing cartography, this body of work uses materials native to these deserts to underscore the connections between the distant horizons and the immediacy of the natural landscape nearby.

Click here to view our previous collaborative work about Horizon Lines

Stratifying the Unknown - Descriptions of artworks

Black Rock Point | 40.971732,-119.0035557 - Installation in Mezzanine 

The line in this bas-relief sculpture refers to the horizon as viewed from the top of Black Rock Point. The work is the opposite of its counterpart, Crystal Peak Horizon Line 360*, in that its shape is defined by the absence of material (the voids between pieces) instead of the presence of it (the hanging crystals). Additionally, it maintains the vertical/linear pattern of Crystal Peak Horizon Line, but does so again in reverse: through the presence of material instead of the absence of it between the strings.

 

This work transforms desert mountains into something more fluid and river-like. Aesthetically, it therefore refers back on the fluid history that carved these mountains in the ancient inland sea that shaped this landscape through the depositing and removal of material.

 

Crystal Peak Horizon Line 

Located not far from Reno, NV this peak is an extraordinary geological experience. It is covered in white quartz and some are speckled with a turquoise or amber color. In Nevada, the horizon line is often an elegant and uninterrupted 360° contour of mostly barren mountains. This work is based on the horizon line visible from the top of the peak. The rocks are tied with strings and are suspended a couple inches apart to form the horizon line. This sculpture allows the viewer to walk around the horizon line, instead of the horizon line changing with your location relative to the work.

 

Black Rock Desert Paintings

Black Rock Desert Waterlines | 12 Mile no. 2, 8 Mile, and, 3 Mile

 

These paintings stem from Clairissa’s artist residency through Friends of the Black Rock - High Rock and the BLM- Artist in Residence. She spent two weeks in the Black Rock Desert, NV in May 2018. During this residency she continued her research and artwork about water systems in playa's (temporary dry lakes) within the Great Basin. These three paintings are a combination of the mirage seen when looking out at the great expanse and a graph that indicates the amount of precipitation that occurred during her visit.

 

Watercolors: Black Rock Desert Study | 8 mile, 3 mile, and 12 mile

These paintings were started as plein-air paintings while out in the Black Rock Desert researching for the Desert Waterlines series. They evolved with the silver leaf during time spent back in the studio exploring the mirage of water in desert landscapes.

 

Black Rock Desert Photographs

BRD Northward, BRD Southward, BRD Reflections 1, BRD Reflections 2

 

Winter 2016/17 in Northern Nevada was exceptionally wet, and the characteristically parched and cracked surface of the the Black Rock Desert playa was covered with a 1/2” of water. These images were made from a vantage point approximately half way between the western and eastern boundaries of the playa, looking both North and South. The North boundary of the playa is approximately 20 miles from this vantage point, and the southern boundary is about 10 miles away. Standing in the middle of this mirrored surface is disorienting because while the boundaries of the desert floor are crisply defined by the inflection of the reflected image, their distance is similarly difficult to perceive. In this way, the image and the experience of this place in such unique conditions is strangely reminiscent of the distant mirages one sees during the hot and dry winter months.

When Earth Becomes Sky | Black Rock Desert and Summer Lake

Stormy weather changes our understanding of space as the horizon can become indistinguishable from the sky. In the Summer Lake image, a dust storm obscures the horizon, and the earth begins to look like clouds. In the Black Rock Desert image, the deep blue rain clouds combine with the mountains, and the transition between sky and earth is more fluid than defined. What happens when the boundary is obscured? Where does earth end and the sky begin? How is our sense of space and distance impacted by the definition of the horizon line? The experience of the “nearby” can often be stolen from us by the focus on the “distant.” But when the horizon is obscured, the nearby comes alive.

 

Field of View drawings

field of view | black rock desert 1, field of view | black rock desert 2

 

The Field of View drawings are silverpoint drawings combined with Black Rock Desert playa crust painted on panels. The field of view refers to the 120* of vision that is typical to the human eye, and looks at topographical mapping of the site from which the photograph, Horizons | Lines, was made. Topographical-maps help us to interpret this information in the eye of our imagination, to the type of root-lines the plants utilize to survive in this landscape, and to the real texture of the space applied to the panel with the playa crust.

 

The paint is made from a mixture of salt and playa crust from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The paintings trace the actual surface of the playa. Cracking lines in the surface of the playas are the marks left behind from cycles of moisture evaporation — the linear trace of water’s path as it escapes the surface of the earth.

 

Winter Ridge | Summer Lake

This drawing of Winter Ridge from the PLAYA Residency Program at Summer Lake combines the transition from detailed drawing to simple horizon line with the drawing of a plant native to that landscape. Like the Field of View drawings and Horizons | Lines image, this drawing presents a complex description of Winter Ridge: It presents the volume of the space, the line that demarcates earth and sky, and refers to the linear modes by which plants survive in this harsh landscape.

 

Photo Collage, Sculpture, Silverpoint.

Railroad Valley | 38.15927, -116.12087, South of Fallon | 39.22742, -118.74487, Mt Irish Wilderness | 37.42303, -115.43098 

 

Throughout our journeys around Nevada, we photograph various horizon lines in 360* panoramas. The lines from several of these panoramas are a regular motif throughout this exhibition — the same three lines are present in the collages, the radiating silverpoint drawings, and the box sculptures.

 

The collages combine a cut out horizon line with a distorted view of the Nevada sky. Here, the horizon line is a boundary that limits the range of the cosmos to be experienced from the a particular point. Further, like old 19th century maps of Nevada and the West, the white space denotes the visually unknown and unexplored. The line becomes the demarcation of what can be immediately experienced and known. 

 

 Again, like the collages, the horizon lines are denoted with paper cutouts in the box sculptures. The boxes are filled with diatomaceous earth, a material that is commonly mined in the Great Basin and which refers to a history of topographic change in the region. The sculptures function as the inverse of the collages: they use the horizon line to denote the boundary of one’s terrestrial visual experience from a given point.

 

 The silverpoint drawings refer to cartographic modes of understanding space. The straight lines drawn from the origin to the peaks and valleys of the surrounding horizon line refer not only to one’s line of sight at the given point, but also to modes of topographic illustration. Where lines more densely populate the plane, the topography is more abrupt and rugged, while less densely lined areas refer to more gentle sloping terrain. These drawings present the landscape with subtle and nuanced information that speaks to the complexity of the high desert landscape.

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