Letha Wilson: het fotografisch beeld als beginpunt

grimm-letha-wilson-yellowstone-sunsrise-idaho-lava-2021 UV prints on steel
72.4 x 50.8 x 34.3 cm | 28 1/2 x 20 x 13 1/2 in
zijkant van hetzelfde beeld

Het fotografisch beeld in een synthese met industriële materialen zoals cortenstaal, aluminium en vinyl. Dat is het onderzoeksterrein van de Amerikaanse kunstenares Letha Wilson (b.1976), nu o.a. te zien in de Grimm-gallerie in Amsterdam, voordien ook in New York.

Letha Wilson’s practice is rooted in material experimentation. She is known for her synthesis of mediums, expanding the visual and physical dimensions of photography and sculpture. 

By combining industrial materials such as Corten steel, aluminum, and vinyl with photography, Wilson has developed unique fabrication processes. She prints images depicting the beauty of natural landscapes onto her sculptures, embeds them in the surface of her works, and manipulates them in various unexpected compostions. The sweeping expanse of a desert sunset, grooved rock formations, and verdant palm trees are among images Wilson has taken while travelling in Hawaii, the American West, and Iceland. The natural world is both the subject and content of her work; a metaphor for the role of the landscape in myths of renewal, and possibility. (Grimm Gallery)
Nevada Moonrise Metal Fold, 2018
UV prints of aluminum
96.5 x 386.1 x 25.4 cm | 38 x 152 x 10 in
detail centrum

Een synthese van media. Zat de fotografie vastgeklonken in de twee-dimensionele ruimte, hier probeert de kunstenares haar als belangrijk onderdeel te integreren, niet alleen in haar oorspronkelijke vorm maar vaak ook bewerkt, geknipt, gescheurd, of afgedrukt op ongewone materialen zodat ze helemaal in het kunstwerk kan geïntegreerd worden.

Lava and Leaves with Pipe, 2021 UV prints on steel, steel pipe
61 x 35.6 x 38.1 cm | 24 x 14 x 15 inch
Door industriële materialen zoals cortenstaal, aluminium en vinyl te combineren met fotografie, heeft Wilson unieke fabricageprocessen ontwikkeld. Ze drukt beelden van de schoonheid van natuurlijke landschappen af op haar sculpturen, verwerkt ze in het oppervlak van haar werken en manipuleert ze in verschillende onverwachte composities. De uitgestrektheid van een woestijnzonsondergang, gegroefde rotsformaties en groene palmbomen behoren tot de beelden die Wilson heeft genomen tijdens reizen in Hawaii, het Amerikaanse Westen en IJsland. De natuurlijke wereld is zowel het onderwerp als de inhoud van haar werk; een metafoor voor de rol van het landschap in mythen van vernieuwing en mogelijkheden. (Grimm)
Bryce Canyon Lava Push, 2018 UV prints on Corten steel
335.3 x 129.5 x 152.4 cm | 132 x 51 x 60 inch
Wilson snijdt, scheurt en vormt haar foto's, duwt en trekt de afdrukken op hun plaats en omhult vervolgens delen van de compositie in cement. In haar werk ze onderzoekt de magnetische aantrekkingskracht van het Amerikaanse Westen en wijst daarbij op de rol die het landschap speelt in onze eigen mythen over heruitvinding, eindeloze mogelijkheden en grote beloftes. Met architectuur en driedimensionaliteit als frame en armatuur onderzoekt Wilson de mogelijkheden en onmogelijkheden van het fotografische beeld. Zoals het onvermogen van een foto om de plek die wordt afgebeeld volledig te omvatten. 

“I believe the concern for the environment and nature comes from the heart of my experience spending time outdoors. It’s not something that I address overtly; but I allow the viewer to bring with them what they may and, perhaps, or ideally, they re-consider their own relationship or assumptions about nature.”
^ Hawaii California Steel (Figure Ground), 2017, UV prints on Corten steel, 10 x 6 x 5 feet
Comissioned by the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
'I never understood why photography was sort  of sectioned out in terms of this art conversation.  What do photographers think they’re doing that    separates them from artists? There is such convention  surrounding photography, how it’s framed, how it’s  hung, how it’s presented. I amazed that people assume that once the image is captured nothing happens after that. To me, that’s just the beginning of  the conversation. The image is not the end point but  a starting point. And even going back to someone  like Anna Atkins, I find it really interesting thinking  about the first camera, the first photograph, the camera obscura. It’s all really based on science, a spirit of  experimentation and figuring out what works. I get  excited about that.' (William Jess Laird, Upstate Diary)
Death Valley of Fire Concrete Bend, 2020 concrete, C-print, UV print, aluminum frame
81.3 x 61 x 4.4 cm | 32 x 24 x 1 3/4 in
IMAGE: Letha Wison, Landmarks and Monuments Installation view, Solo exhibition at Art in General, NYC
'I was really interested  if something could be sculpture, painting, and photography simultaneously. I was making work, but I was also taking all these other classes  learning a lot of processes, so I could understand what I could create  using mold-making or layering images onto fabric. My peers were always  painters and sculptors. I never took a photography class and I feel like  an outsider as far as photography goes. But the thing is that, eventually, I  realized these pieces I was making, these extrusions using digital prints  and sculptural forms were kind of cumbersome. 

So in order to break  down my practice into something more immediate, I started printing in the dark room, which has been a huge part of my process. I’ve been  printing for 12 years, but, still, I go to the dark room and they’re like, 
“Which enlarger lens do you need?” And I’m like, “I don’t know.” I don’t know the technical lingo of photography, but I know how to do what I  need to do. My goals are just different. I shoot with this old box camera, a Yashica-Mat, so there’s a certain amount of not seeing and not knowing what I’m doing. And then, when I’m in the dark room, I just want to  see images as quickly as possible. I know that I’m going to subject these  prints to extreme duress, so I print quickly and really large — and the 
colors can shift. But it isn’t perfect color that I’m looking for.' (Ibidem)
Letha Wilson – Headlands Beach Steel Pipe Bend, 2018
UV print on vinyl, steel pipe
147.3 x 106.7 x 40.6 cm | 58 x 42 x 16 in
Installation view of Cross Country, Grimm Gallery Amsterdam, May 2019



Steel Face Concrete Bend (Kauai Palm), 2018, Unique c-prints, concrete, emulsion transfer, steel frame, 38 x 32 x 1 1/2 in

Nature and the landscape, particularly in the Western United States, but even hiking in the woods out East gives me ideas. The sense of timelessness and the overwhelming magnitude of the spaces in the American West continually blow me away. Besides the large vistas, are so many details and moments, the rocks, geology and formations, it is a continual source of amazement.

Badlands Concrete Bend, 2015, C-prints, concrete, emulsion transfer, aluminum frame 60.5 x 45.5 x 2 inches