This project began with a road trip to New Mexico from three different parts of the country, Oregon, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Meeting in the desert outside Albuquerque, we made our way to the Very Large Array, an astronomical marvel and epic material expression of the human desire to know the universe. Primed by this encounter to experience the earth as a small orb in a vast space, we picked up a pie from a small bakery and headed to the Dia Foundation office to embark on our journey to Walter de Maria’s 1977 work The Lightning Field.
Thunderstruck is the aftermath of that trip, a group of art works, collaborations, writing and collective feelings. Forty-one years after the completion of The Lighting Field, we wondered if land art was still relevant. What happens to land art in an age of environmental and political catastrophe? Questions of material, light, history, indigenous heritage, and embodiment suffuse these works in print, drawing, sound, sculpture, and installation. Thunderstruck re-presents The Lightning Field as an accumulation of meaning unfixed by time, floating free from De Maria’s authorial intention.
The exhibition is accompanied by a limited edition collaborative book.
The book was designed by John Whitten, with a cover designed by Michael E. Stephen. Images contributed by Rosana Aviña-Beam, Robert Beam, Jessi DiTillio, Katherine Spinella, Michael E. Stephen, and John Whitten. Essay by Jessi DiTillio.
Rosana Aviña-Beam (Philadelphia, PA) is an Interior Architect who believes even with the most common spaces and elements of the everyday - design should enrich and impact an individual. Rosana received her MS in Interior Architecture from Philadelphia University and her BA in Theatre Arts from the University of North Texas. Most recently she worked as a Designer for Droese Raney Architecture, her work can be found throughout North America.
Robert Collier Beam (Philadelphia, PA) is an interdisciplinary artist working in photography, installation and drawing. He received his MFA from the University of Oregon and BFA in photography from the University of North Texas. His work has been shown both nationally and internationally, and was supported by a Dallas Museum of Art grant. Robert grew up on his families ranch deep in East Texas where a strong appreciation for the land was developed.
Katherine Spinella (Portland, OR) uses printmaking, sculpture, and digital images as a means of archiving and deconstructing discarded physical and digital commodities. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and received grant support from the Ford Family Foundation and Oregon Arts Commission. She earned her MFA from the University of Oregon. Spinella is a co-founding member of Carnation Contemporary. Her practice transports the refuse of commerce into fractured, elevated, and philosophically personified artifacts.
Michael E. Stephen (Austin, TX) is a conceptual artist working in the expanded field of sculpture and video. His work unveils the change and dynamism of objects as they pass through time, space and context as they archive our idiosyncratic relationship with nostalgia and the act of the ritual. He earned his MFA at the University of Oregon. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including in Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Norway and Italy.
John Whitten (Portland, OR) is a visual artist whose drawings and digital work aims to excavate the philosophical significance of what it means to wander through the sea of signals and noise enveloping our world. He earned his MFA from the University of Oregon and his BFA from Watkins College of Art. His work has been exhibited internationally, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards, grants, and residencies. He is a co-founding member of Carnation Contemporary.
Our sparkly merch supports this traveling exhibition and the Institute for American Indian Arts Scholarship fund.