Laura Foster Nicholson
Since moving to southwest Indiana in 2006, I been mesmerized by the flatness of the landscape in this region. Beginning with a series of tapestries depicting simple farms structures – grain bins and barns, I made a woven language of great simplicity, concentrating on color and composition, and light, highlighted by the textures of the weave.
During this time I have become increasingly aware of the American food situation and how that is illustrated so accurately by these landscapes. I am surrounded by fields which grow food for livestock and for ethanol, not for humans; my food arrives on trucks from great distances. Moving from elegiac work about the beauty of the landscape here, I see it now as a perfect manifestation of the modern ethos of Form follows Function.
We are trained by culture to regard the sleek simplicity of modernism to be beautiful, elegant, and so I have experienced quite an Aha moment in realizing my work has celebrated the very thing I have fought against in in our hyper-rational food culture. What made sense at the beginning, now has become the height of absurdity.
As I continue to drive through this landscape I have begun to notice all of the architecture of energy generation and how that interacts with the simplicity of the farming structures. From wind turbines, which radiate their simple elegance of hope for a new energy, to power-line towers, to the aging battery tanks for storing crude oil and the small oil pumps dotting the landscape, these structures modify that original simplicity with their own functional lines. I am seeking with this most recent work to come to terms with what this landscape means for us in this region, using the loom’s simple, rational methods to try to make sense of a strange new composition.