My work is centered on the ways in which human constructs of land influence our experience of place and I explore this notion through an embodied process of visualizing the land. My prints are inspired by the extended walks that I initiate and often comprised of influential documentation I gather that becomes integral to my experience. This includes maps, observation-based drawings, photographs, historic research, and oral narratives I gather from ethnographic field research. My artistic practice also builds on doctrines and discourse of the Romantic landscape tradition which undoubtedly continues to shape our perception and experience of land and place. Through this work I aim to demonstrate our vital connection with land, make reference to the frameworks we place on it, and encourage speculation of past, present, and future land use.
www.crowscry.com/matthew (download "a transect_Due East.pdf)
Some Remarks About My Homeland
I am from the San Joaquin Valley of California. I was born in the Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia. I grew up on Tulare Street in Dinuba, less than one block away from El Monte Way (Mountain View). The elementary school that I attended was on Sierra Way. Many of my adolescent years were spent at my high school sweet heart’s home (now my wife) on Sequoia Drive. I attended College of the Sequoias in Visalia where I took art classes in the Kaweah Building; all of this with little or no knowledge of the land that these places occupy and refer to.
Much of my artistic journey has been based on the research that I do in order to connect with the very land that I came from with all its references to the Sierra Nevada Mountains - due east of my homeland. Due to the air quality in the San Joaquin Valley, these mountains and the hills before them are more often completely out of sight. However, I remember one day in particular when I saw those sharp peaks out there beyond my homeland with a strange new clarity that led me on my own investigation. It was a day when the depth of field within my vision suddenly became much deeper and more perceptive.
It was early spring and I decided to take a drive alone into the foothills, given my new freedom with my late grandfather’s Oldsmobile. Less than one block away from home, I turned east down El Monte Way and the air was so clear that I could see the jagged snow capped Kaweah Peaks and the Great Western Divide of Sequoia National Park. And for some reason this astonished me that day but never before. I could even see Moro Rock just beyond the foothills. However, at the time I didn’t know what any of these landmarks were called because I didn't know anyone who could tell me.
That day I became captivated by this view and flabbergasted that I had never taken such notice of it before! I drove straight toward the mountains, down El Monte Way, but the road ended a mere ten miles later and left me at the base of a large foothill. When I continued on foot, a man at the base of the mountain (Stokes Mountain) told me, “You’re on private property!” and forced me to turn around.
Ever since then, I’ve been trying to comprehend and communicate the vastness and complexity of what I saw that day. That view has been a tremendous source of inspiration in my life and I have carried it in my mind ever since. It has compelled me to head into the High Sierra every chance I get.
More recently I have embarked on a journey along a direct route that transects that powerful view down El Monte Way - from my home all the way to the highest ridge that I see on those rare clear days: a transect - Due East.
Let us connect with the land we inhabit on a level that goes much deeper than the concrete that most of us walk on every day.