Athena LaTocha is an Alaska-born artist whose work explores the relationship between natural landscapes and human-made environments. She is drawn not only to wilderness areas and national parks but also to mines, oil fields, and quarries—places where humans extract power and energy from the land. For this exhibition, she made a series of works responding to the landscape around the Great Falls of the Passaic River in Paterson, New Jersey.
LaTocha begins each project by researching the geological and cultural history of a specific place and then going directly to the land to observe and listen intently to what it might reveal. At the Great Falls, she compiled a bank of digital images, videos, and sound recordings to evoke memories of her experiences, and gathered materials to use in creating the work. She molded thin sheets of lead into and around basalt rock faces near the falls and took these impressions back to her studio, where she transformed them into the works in this exhibition. The life-size lead imprints, which straddle the lines between drawing, painting, and sculpture, convey the mystery and power embedded in an ancient place that is both a natural wonder and a site of industrialization.
This project—a companion exhibition to The First Water Is the Body—was organized by VACNJ curator, Mary Birmingham. Click here for more information on Athena LaTocha and her work.
Photo by Etienne Frossard