Landlines


"Memory is the fourth dimension to any landscape." ~Janet Fitch

The Landlines series was inspired by my life-long love of maps, geology and a fascination with the idea that as born story tellers, our first stories, are stories about how the land came to be as it is. Having lived in Ohio most of my life, then in Texas for a period of time before I settled in the Pacific Northwest, I was inspired to begin work on the Landlines series after a visit to Mt St Helens, a volcano that last erupted in 1980. Watching the sun set from a point high above the northern blast zone, as light spread over the wastelands beneath the shattered peak I noticed details of life, land and light I had not noticed before. Trees - lit bright green in side light. The long spindly shadows of foraging elk. Color variations in the ash and rock in the blast zone. A tangle of sinuous lines and shadows left by melt-water streams that continuously re-define the valley floor. Features and relationships that no guide, map or satellite view had foretold.

Leaving St. Helens that day, I thought of a term I had heard in Iceland, “Landvættir (lon-va-teer)” which roughly translates to “land spirit” or a “memory of the land”. Landvættir can be a living thing - such as an animal, or, as it relates to this work, can occupy the space of a rock, a volcano or, an entire continent. I thought about how we often generalize subjects whose scale challenges the limits of our faculties. Thought about how - what cannot be understood or recognized on a human scale is often, given over the abstraction. Mysteries that can shortchange us a deeper appreciation of how the parts interrelate and work together to create the whole. The images I had seen of St. Helens that were in wide views - made it a subject of the sky. Detailed images of St. Helens - seemed to relegate it to a curiosity - rote patterns found throughout the natural world. I wondered if I could find a middle ground. Wondered if I isolated where forces and features mix, if I might develop a better understanding of the land and the dynamics at work.

Using the camera to flatten scenes just as maps do, the works in this series bring landscape features and details into focus the way one might use a microscopic slide. A focus on the land as it might be understood as a system of feedback loops shaped by interactions with light, water, weather, geology and, the non-humans who call it home. Not as an abstraction, but as a series of meditations working to bring the complexity of the land together on human relatable scales. Not only the inanimate, but also the living, the sun drenching wheat crops on the Palouse Farm lands. Volcanic obsidian focusing sunlight until it heats and fractures the basalt below - into a sandy soil that Whitebark Pine take root in. Trees anchoring a landslide zone in the Grand Canyon. The heavy hooves of a moose compressing the marsh bed as it cuts a feeding path through the reeds. An effort I hope might stir another sense for the land. One that is freed from the limitations of our faculties. One that might help expand our vocabulary and better prepare us for the stories of the land we have yet to tell.

*NOTE: Works in this series are only available for purchase via direct sale through Lance and his team. Please visit our Sales Page to begin a conversation on your favorite piece/s.


Landlines: Water Map

As the layers of topographic map detail elevation changes, this formation in Capital Reef details the story of an ancient ocean, the sand and silt buried upon itself until it compressed. Lifted once more into the world, under harsh heat, summer monsoons and winds that stir the sands and cloak the rock in a state of constant friction, the sandstone scales and falls off in formations that mark the weaker boundaries of it original formations. Cast in light, the shadows, gradients of colors and forms appear not unlike those it once held.

The Landlines series was inspired by my life-long love of maps, geology and a fascination with the idea that as born storytellers, our first stories always seem to be about how the land came to be as it is.

  • Blast Zone

    Ash piles, hummocks and new forest take up in the blast zone of Mt. St. Helens.

  • Painted Hills

    As the the Painted Hills erode, they reveal layers from previous ecological and geologic epochs; each color, concentrated mineral content from the unearthed aeon.

  • Rainforest, Ocean, Sand and Wind

    A piece of driftwood thrust into the ocean by spring floods is slowly buried in the shore of the Olympic Coast.

  • Mono Lake Tufa

    Tufas, formed when calcium carbonate slowly collects below water is reshaped by new currents;the wind.

Landlines: Sunsetdown on the Paulous Lands

Loess and Light

The undulations of loesses glimmer and fade in late afternoon light in Eastern Washington.

We often attribute mystique to the unknown land. A habit that shortchanges us the deeper sense of how the parts, work together to create the whole.

  • Cinder Path

    Sundown on Cinder Crater on the periphery of Mt Lassen reveals the outlines of the 1000 foot cone and renewal.

  • Moose Path

    A trampled swath of marsh grass reveals a younger Moose nearby.

  • Tide Form

    Sandstone on the La Jolla shores reveal layers carved from above and below in high and middle tides.

  • Lava Ridge

    A basaltic ridge shapes the contours of the Emmons Glacier reveal Mt Rainiers volcanic past.

Landlines: Grand Canyon Portal

Grand Canyon Portal

Late afternoon light illuminates forest development in a side canyon on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Using the camera to flatten scenes just as maps do, the work in this series brings features and events into focus the way one might create a microscopic slide...

  • A Century in the Sun

    Map lichen formations, which grow up to 1/16 of an inch a year show a century in the sun on a lava flow on Mt. Adams

  • Glacier Moraine

    The details of saddle formed by a Glacial Moraine fill in with pioneer trees who feast on its rich soil

  • Two Futures

    The trails of two Rattlesnakes and converge on Guadalupe Salt Flats.

  • Obsidan Flow

    Layers glass mixed with layers of basalt show surges of uneven flow on the Obsidian Wall in Oregon.

Landlines: Obsidian Wall

Lava Mirror

Obsidian reflects the sky and adjacent rusty Earth around it.

Approaching the land in smaller parts working in relation to one another, a study in how light, weather, geology, wildlife, water and weather work together to create the land. Not as an abstraction, but a testament of the whole brought into sharp relief.

  • Landslide Void

    Voids left by boulders compressed in sand tell the story of ancient underwater landslides.

  • Underlying Faces

    Subterranean Basaltic formation reveal the details of successive lava flows at the foot of Mt Rainier.

  • Glacier Moraine

    The details of saddle formed by a Glacial Moraine fill in with pioneer trees who feast on its rich soil

  • Petrified Mud Pot

    A petrified mud pot tells the story of violent volcanism.


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