Earth Changes launches the vitality of Sherry’s abstractions of the landscape into three-dimensional space. Ten immense, dyed rocks rise from pedestals of varying heights, and are tightly packed to enact the experience of hiking through the desert. The stones’ saturated color emphasizes their natural striations and markings. Twelve photographs, varied in size and printed in stunning color, present close-up views of Big Bend National Park’s cliffs, ledges, and mineral deposits. The jagged outcrops and rugged terrain in the images parallel the sharp, angular forms of the quarried rocks. To echo the size and placement of the sculptures, Sherry playfully scattered his prints at various heights along the gallery walls.
Viewed from left to right in the space, the photographs and rocks proceed from violet to indigo to green, yellow, then orange and finally red, presenting the entire color spectrum. “I often need the whole spectrum of everything to understand myself and see the world,” explained Sherry in a 2012 ARTINFO interview.
Earth Changes pursues the immersive experience of the full range of color in the natural world. Much of Sherry’s process is about engaging with and engrossing himself in the desert landscape, then sharing the heightened moments and spiritual connection he has encountered. He believes that “everyone has this experience of awe of our landscape, a great abyss of wildlife, we all relate to the power of nature.” With strong hues-both in prints and on rocks-his Artpace installation endeavors to translate that extreme power.
ABOUT THE PROCESS
During his Artpace residency, David Benjamin Sherry traveled to West Texas, hiking through the natural environment in Big Bend Natural Park, and taking detailed photographs of dry cliffs, crumbling ledges, and rocks. He discovered varying colors in Texas strata and geological formations, capturing them on large-format film. Interested in the active, hands-on aspect of developing film in a traditional darkroom, Sherry breaks the rules of perfect color balance in printing, pushing natural tints to the extreme utilizing a complex filtration process and longer exposure time to project light through a negative and impelling an organic color-such as canary yellow-to a higher level of intensity.
After he developed the film from the excursions to Big Bend, Sherry decided to link his photographic abstractions with (mostly native) boulders acquired from a stoneyard in Boerne, Texas. He spray-coated and colored the massive rocks with a small selection of concrete dyes mixed to achieve concentrated hues to correspond with his vibrant images. The work resulted in Sherry bringing found objects from the landscape into the physical gallery space-a three-dimensional complement and contrast to the flat images on the walls-and a departure for the photographer, who previously used natural elements in his Astral Desert “sand print” images coated with tinted sand, but has otherwise maintained traditional techniques in the endangered medium of film photography.