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Katie St. Clair: Lay of the Land

An abstract print featuring black and orange colors

Work by Katie St. Clair (MFA 14) is featured in Lay of the Land, a solo exhibition on view through October 2 at Van Every/​Smith Galleries in Davidson, NC. The exhibition will feature abstract, mixed media paintings inspired by the artist’s foraging for mushrooms and other experiences observing and immersing herself in the natural environment, both locally and internationally. 

While on the island of Haida Gwaii I was told by a Northern Cree healer that there was darkness around my cabin. She said the land was haunted by dark sprits and that they were watching me. This shook me and made me reconsider the nature of darkness inherent in the landscape as well as different cultural perceptions of darkness. I needed to understand my fear, as up until that point I had felt quite safe in my little cabin. The nights were long and I was highly aware of my reliance on a fireplace for heat and light. I noticed the black in the volcanic bedrock and in the tributary waters due to the high levels of tannins from decomposing plant material in the coastal rain forest. Locals told me stories of darkness from the Haida Nation, and I could see it in the fierce totems that punctuated the landscape. 

The Penumbra prints were made to understand and visualize the darkness” that I could not see. I crushed charcoal from my fire and collected seaweed from the beach after a storm. I mixed a slurry of charcoal and seawater and poured it over seaweed that I had arranged on color studies of the sunset. When the water evaporated, I was left with amorphous shadows, a visualization of darkness that I could draw on with a wet brush and uncover areas of light that had been lost. It helped me process what I had experienced and gave physical form to my fear.

Katie St. Clair: Lay of the Land
Van Every Gallery, 315 N. Main Street, Davidson, NC 28035
On View August 29, 2022— October 022022