My piece From Maine to Georgia installed in the group show Following the Prescribed Path in Los Angeles.
Following the Prescribed Path
September 13 – November 23, 2014
Laband Art Gallery, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles
The seven artists in Following the Prescribed Path took diverse journeys into both urban and natural landscapes over the course of six decades, and ultimately transformed their experiences into a range of media. The artists’ projects suggest diverse reasons for stepping out our doors—to follow in someone else’s footsteps (whether they are just in front of you or whether they have long since passed), to trace historical wounds, to make a pilgrimage, or to pursue a hero’s journey in search of a transcendent experience. While it might be counterintuitive to think that following a predetermined route is creatively stimulating, the artists in this exhibition suggest otherwise.
Standing upright and walking on two legs distinguishes humans from most other animals. As long as we have been ambulatory, the urge to walk out the front door and just explore one’s environment has been part of the human psyche. Motivated by this basic desire, each of the exhibition’s seven artists embarked on such a journey, but with a twist. The artists’ routes followed a “prescribed path,” one in which the parameters were established before they ever ventured out. Mark Ruwedel followed the seventy-two-and-a-half-mile route through Los Angeles previously taken by an urban hiker. Vito Acconci decided to let strangers on the streets of New York lead him. Kim Abeles allowed a mountain, smoggy conditions, and “the way the crow flies” to determine her walk. Diane Meyer traced the ghostly existence of the Berlin Wall. The urban grid and the romantic pull of the ocean directed Bas Jan Ader. Gabrielle Ferrer developed schemes for herself inspired by earlier wanderers and thinkers. Erin Mallea set out on the well-mapped Appalachian Trail.
Their projects suggest diverse reasons for stepping out our doors—to follow in someone else’s footsteps (whether they are just in front of you or whether they have long since passed), to trace historical wounds, to make a pilgrimage, or to pursue a hero’s journey in search of a transcendent experience. In the process, they articulate dreams and fears that we all share, and maybe they will inspire us to step out of our daily routines to follow our own prescribed paths.
- Carolyn Peter, Director & Curator, Laband Art Gallery
From Maine to Georgia, 2012–14
Following the Prescribed Path presented me the opportunity to reexamine and develop From Maine to Georgia, a project I began in 2012 while hiking the Appalachian Trail. During the five-month, 2,180-mile hike I became interested in my reality compared to idealized narratives of wilderness. Affected by the inaccessibility of my customary communication methods and the importance of written language within the AT hiking culture, I began to share artifacts of my experience through the USPS. Recipients experienced the project’s evolution by collecting regular drawings, letters, found objects, and poems by post. For some recipients, these mailings demystified components of my journey. For others, the mail mystified my history further, weaving the experience with characteristics of the sublime and transcendent and blurring lines between fact and fiction, the routine and the romantic. The objects became personal and shared markers of time and place—pin drops within a larger concrete and immaterial geography.
- Installation images courtesy of Brian Forrest and Laband Art Gallery
- From Maine to Georgia, maple table and benches, map: pen and pencil on mylar and rice paper, mailings: mixed media, 2012–14
- Erin Mallea, details of individual mailings from From Maine to Georgia, mixed media.