The Earth Rolls from Under
Exhibition at Some.Time.Salon, San Francisco
Rachelle Reichert researches the usages and associations of her mediums by weaving story lines of scientific innovation and ecology into her art. At Some.Time.Salon (STS), Reichert will show work created while an artist in residence at Planet Labs (an earth imaging and aerospace company based in San Francisco) and Signal Fire (a weeklong camping residency in the Cascade Range near Portland, OR).
In The Earth Rolls from Under, Reichert uses drawing to explore the distance between a personal understanding of humanity’s impact on the planet and the representation of this impact depicted in satellite photography. During the settlement of the American West, the exploitation of natural resources occurred in conjunction with the glorification of the West as an idea - a sublime landscape imagined and reproduced in epic paintings by artists such as Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church. Satellite images are hybridized, composite mosaics of photographs from varying dates and times woven together to create the most compelling image (and to hide proprietary technology from competitors). Reichert’s work investigates the implications of these manipulated photographs and the consequences of not acknowledging the scars our consumption has created on the Earth’s delicate surface.
A series of small graphite drawings depict the Fort McMurray fires at the Tar Sands in Canada. These fires and the fossil fuel extraction surrounding them sparked a national debate on climate change. Reichert references the unedited images that do not reach public consumption. The resulting works are subtly abstracted aerial landscapes playing with the dichotomies of light and dark and geometric and organic form. Bulbous clouds drift toward the viewer and large triangular planes of solid graphite slash through the compositions.
In the largest piece on view, rectangular and spherical shapes filled with graphite drawing bisect and overlap at odd angles, visually mimicking the way satellite imagery is collaged. Reichert drew from satellite images taken of the land during the time she was camping on Mt. Hood for the Signal Fire residency. Reichert’s drawing aims to expose the deforestation threatening that wilderness and how the manipulation of the satellite imagery may mask this fragmentation.
With ancestors in Italy, Reichert became interested in Carrara marble, which comes from a famous mountain that has been mined for over two thousand years and used in iconic examples of art and architecture such as the Pantheon and Michelangelo’s Pieta. She finds irregular scraps from the supplier rather than paying for new material. A marble sculpture imitates the peaks and valleys of mountainous terrain absent from Reichert’s drawings. The piece instills upon the viewer an enduring theme in all of Reichert’s work - the preciousness of this Earth and the care with which we should approach it so it does not become thus - cold and barren stone.