“In the Rocky Mountains, I wept”, by Jennifer Belair (Detroit)
March 26 – April 29, 2017
“This installation pays homage to the great American West through a personal lens. As a born and raised Midwesterner, the Rocky Mountains and western United States struck a special chord. For two summers I have retreated to the magical land to pursue different unconventional employment opportunities. First at Yellowstone National Park and secondly at a luxury dude ranch in the high Rockies of Colorado—C-Lazy-U Dude Ranch.
These experiences have collectively evolved my creative practice and expanded my visual vocabulary. The collective body of work presents an “altar” of sorts, or a place to pay my personal respects. I have an interest in not only telling my personal story but also to raise appreciation for the wonders of mother nature and to create a space where one might reminisce with an emotional connection they too might have held with the West.
I believe that the West boasts a landscape where one can experience the true meaning of the word “Awesome”—a word that is thrown around quite casually in our daily vernacular. Our individual presence seems miniscule in comparison to the big ol’ sky in Montana, the purple mountains of colorful Colorado calling us in from the horizon, and where the wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem seems to hold an authoritative presence. I see the West as a romantic place where romantic things can happen—or sometimes don’t.
My personal work has often been contained in two-dimensional spaces, so I saw the Aquarium Gallery at the Ann Arbor Art Center as an opportunity to challenge my personal aesthetic and to grow as an artist. The final work is sort of a three-dimensional drawing—elements of the picture plane taking physical form and dimension and filling the space of the Aquarium Gallery—almost taking the shape of a “cabinet of curiosities.”
A focal point of this exhibition is a hand bound book that is centrally located and easily reads “In the Rocky Mountains, I Wept.” The remainder of the space uses western visual imagery representing the landscape and the mega-fauna of the Rockies such as Grizzly bear, bison, and mountain lion. I am especially interested in representing a heard of bison through printmaking technology—specifically screen-printing.
Bison have held a special meaning in my work since my first trek out west and have continued to infiltrate my visual vocabulary. They are the eminent sign—all roads have led West. There are also small bowls filled with water to represent the tears that one experiences while weeping in addition to other objects such as sage brush and obsidian rock—both relics of the West.”
Come see this installation at the Aquarium Gallery, located in Ashley Street, near the intersection with Liberty, in downtown Ann Arbor