May 15 - July 3
Rio Gallery (300 S Rio Grande St, Salt Lake City, UT 84101)
May 15 – July 3, 2020
Artists Katie Hargrave and Meredith Lynn are interested in ways people connect themselves to the natural world. Using installation and new media, we explore how relationships to the landscape are mediated by tools like cameras and vehicles as well as entities like the National Park Service. Through their work they consider how these enable a connection to the outdoors while defining the terms of that engagement. They are interested in the intersections of accessibility, advocacy, and ownership in understanding human presence in the environment.
Two years ago Hargrave and Lynn drove across the country to visit Epicenter and Arches National Park. We were struck by the prevalence of RVs. As tent campers and National Parks enthusiasts, we spent a lot of time in the company of Airstreams, Winnebagos, and Jaycos, and came to appreciate that for many, the RV makes a kind of relationship to nature possible. It also recreates the comfort and access of home, in the middle of the woods. We saw our fellow campers set up potted plants, satellite dishes, and full multi-course meals. This experience is in contrast to the idyllic vision of Arches that Edward Abbey writes about in Desert Solitaire when he proclaims, “You can’t see anything from a car.” There is a value judgement implicit in this statement. Abbey and other nature writers equate a connection to nature with spirituality, purity, and a unique kind of enlightenment. Is this relationship to the outdoors available to those who experience it through a car or RV?
This work emerged out of time spent in Utah, as campers and as artists in residence at Epicenter. Katie and Meredith visited Epicenter in 2017, and Katie returned for a month in 2018 as a Frontier Fellow. While Katie was there, they collaborated remotely to create artwork exploring RVs, public lands, and tourists’ experiences. Katie began the studio experiments because of the gift of time and space made by Epicenter, and by the unique experience of spending time amongst so many travelers stopping by Green River on their way to Arches and Canyonlands. Watching these tourists park their RVs in the grocery store parking lot, or trying to take camp showers outside of the Epicenter resident housing, piqued our interest and led to prolonged experimentation. It would be fitting to return this research to the Utah landscape through this exhibition.