Air over land was installed near Delia, Alberta from January to May 2013. Three hand-knit linen tubes encased in thin wool felt were placed at the base of the Hand Hills, once the edge of a prehistoric ocean. The trio of windsocks captured the direction and force of the prairie wind.
At times they resembled undersea creatures pulling strongly on their tethers, then laundry flapping on the line. Over the course of five months they were ravaged by the wind and faded by the sun. Once the first piece was torn from its mount, the deterioration of these now fragile textile objects was arrested and conserved. Each piece has now been hand stitched to a cotton mount for exhibition.
Cloth is analogous to the human body. When placed in the landscape, textiles indicate human presence evoking the temporary nature of our occupancy and the fragility of the human body itself. Temporary shelter, flag, signal or marker, textiles in the landscape proffer ephemeral evidence of our attempts to occupy, communicate boundaries or quantify the natural world. As the descendant of farmers on the Canadian prairie, I feel a strong connection to a landscape, one that can feel indifferent or even hostile depending on the season. On the prairies it is the wind that carves the earth, carries the weather and creates the conditions (favourable or otherwise) that its inhabitants experience.
“Air over land” is intended to capture the strength of natural phenomena and embed it in the deteriorating cloth subjected to its force. The resulting textiles are a document of exposure to the elements and provide an analog to our own vulnerable bodies in the landscape. The corresponding video documentation captures the process of deterioration enacted on the textiles by wind, snow and sun.
Artwork in background created by Barbara Sutherland
Material studies and more information about the project HERE
Textile forms and mounts created with the assistance of Marci Simkulet and Jason Hussey.