Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to announce “Everywhere All at Once,” an exhibition of work by Bay Area–artist Vanessa Marsh. This presentation will feature, among other works, a new series of landscapes distinguished as much by their pared-down, graphic aesthetic—which she achieves by harnessing photogramic techniques—as they are by their mysterious, dream-like moods. In some works, space is articulated by layering multiple two-dimensional planes, or what Marsh likens to independent, freely-moving tectonic plates. For example, the silhouettes of a palm tree and electrical wires and poles in the foreground of Landscape #5 are articulated in opaque black, while modern-day windmills lining the hills in the background comprise a second layer that is rendered in a lighter grey. Other landscapes dramatically collapse depth by utilizing a single plane, such as Landscape #7, which depicts crisscrossing strands of pennant flags at close range. All of the landscapes in this series—also titled “Everywhere All at Once”—are set against the same vast night sky, punctuated by stars whose diffuse light makes them appear to almost glow.
“The act of making art is this constant mining of memory and experience,” Marsh says, explaining that several sets of memories have shaped this series. They include her own childhood experience of the sublime upon discovering that light emitted from stars has traveled sometimes billions of light years before reaching our eyes; a reoccurring apocalyptic nightmare, set in an open field and marked by an erratically behaving moon brought on, ostensibly, by man’s abuse of the planet; and, finally, Marsh’s attempts to channel the memories of experiences that have befallen others. For Marsh, memory and landscape form a bidirectional relationship. Her memories provide the visual inspiration for her imagined landscapes, which themselves function symbolically as vehicles for articulating the sometimes incomprehensibility of memory, for capturing memories that exist only in our collective consciousness, or for confronting memories of events that never actually were: “a lot of the works speak to a sense of isolation, how that isolation relates to the landscape, and how I find myself in that landscape—physically, metaphorically, spiritually.”
Despite their perceived eeriness—an effect amplified by the fact that there is no direct light source—the works also communicate a sense of optimism and “the potential for regrowth and feeling” in the face of turmoil and destruction. Marsh’s landscapes are not specific but rather cumulative, articulating both many places simultaneously (“everywhere all at once”), the rapidly shifting nature of today’s built and natural environments, and vastness that characterizes not just earth, but earth’s relationship to the wider solar system, galaxy, and beyond. It is this overwhelming sense of the sublime that informs Marsh’s understanding of the future:
“Looking out over the landscape the night sky provides a reminder of the smallness of our existence and also the vast possibilities inherent to our experience. It provides a connection between distant individuals, a jumping off point for belief systems and mythos, and an interstellar reference that helps us to navigate our own world. For me, more than anything, it provides a sense of space and infinity that is at once the essence of openness and possibility and also terrifyingly complex and unfathomable.”
Vanessa Marsh was born Seattle, Washington, in 1978. She earned her BA from Western Washington University in 2001 followed by her MFA in 2004 from California College of the Arts. Marsh has exhibited across the United States, including at the Richard L. Nelson Gallery at UC Davis, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art; Foley Gallery in New York and The Camera Club of New York. She has been awarded Fellowships at the Headlands Center for the Arts (2004), The MacDowell Colony (2007) and Kala Art Institute (2011.) In 2014, she was an Artist in Residence at Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco.