My time in Green River was spent vacillating between a vague, sensory nostalgia and a desire to understand this place on its own terms. I came to Green River with a box of materials, a long list of influences, and a fairly specific idea for how I would use them on my Frontier Fellowship. When faced with the reality of Green River, however, I set this plan aside and tried to understand Green River by engaging with its physical reality. I walked and drove around the town to get a sense of how it works and what holds it together. I followed roads until they ended or were impassable. In my explorations, I stumbled across numerous reminders of the Idaho desert where I grew up, a day’s drive from Green River. I hadn’t thought about goatheads for 15 years until they were under my feet again. I knew that I would need to get oriented in this new place, but I was surprised to find myself struggling to stay oriented in time.
Over the years, Green River has expanded and contracted, the river shifted to the edge of town and the interstate highway reoriented its axis. All of this makes Green River difficult to read. It does not have a cute old main street, but it does have its particular charms, amazing tacos and an observant and connected community. All the parts of a great town are there, but it takes time and attention to understand how it all fits together. I quickly became enamored with the constant, deceptively massive presence of the Book Cliffs, with their shifting colors and repetitive structure. They play an important role in my understanding of Green River. To me the cliffs locate and organize the town externally. They tell you where you are.
The installation Untitled (Cliffs) pays homage to the Book Cliffs, and draws upon my childhood interest in geology as much as my background as an architect. I sought to produce a work that was abstract but identifiable. It has an artificial order drawn from the natural order (and disorder) of the Book Cliffs, a landscape as meaningful to me as any in Utah.