As an artist, I investigate the many layers of the landscape—private, public, industrial,geological—and make them visible through multi-panel paintings. I work outdoors, hiking across the terrain and tracking my observations in paintings from multiple vantage points and elevations. I want to build an image that looks everywhere at once—10 miles away, 2 feet away, 60 feet down, 50 feet up, North, South, East, West, inward, outward. I stack these disparate distances and viewpoints into close physical proximity in one painting, frenetically zooming in and out of the many layers which make up the current state of the land.
The archaeology of the everyday is my subject. My practice has recently led me just south of Boston to the Quincy Quarries, to a disused mine in the California Desert, and public park behind my studio in Brookline. Tracks from drills, dynamite, and glacial shifts sculpt topographies. Locals and tourists shroud rocks in graffiti, like a forum for private expression. Leaves and tree roots become fossils and bones. By making paintings in a communal place and sharing in a location, I am in proximity with the people, expression, labor, and family before and concurrent with my own time.
As an artist who makes work in the landscape, I think it is my responsibility to document traces of historical, environmental, and human impact on the land with as much fidelity as possible. Through this experiential way of working, I want my paintings to be a record of vitality at a specific place at a specific time.
I like to consider myself a patient observer and a maker, carefully turning what I see into quiet narratives through pyrography and mixed media constructions. I have been using pyrography and other forms of burning an image onto wood, paper or bone for over 10 years. Burning is a metaphor as well as a process. I have to remind people that we are burning through nature, burning our future, that we are getting burned by the decisions we made thoughtlessly, unknowingly, years ago. I draw what interests me but it leads me to research what affects what. I am left with more questions than answers. Humans seem to be the great unstoppable variable that impacts nature the most. I turn my lens on what catches my eye and then I burn.
Manipulation of the landscape has carried the connotations of power and wealth for centuries and contemporary suburbia doesn’t escape from this legacy. Paige Salmon’s practice centers around the way contemporary society’s impulse to create facade through the ornamentation and organization of the landscape. Using both digital and analog photography processes, she produces non-narrative photographs that reveal the superficiality in the manipulated landscape.
Functioning in the gap between reality and representation, the photographic image serves not only as a report on the suburban landscape, but an assessment of it. Through the depiction of hyper-controlled environments, her work reevaluates the way humans interact with surroundings and community. By re-contextualizing or de-contextualizing constructed landscapes through the photographic process, viewers interact with the scenes in a manner that allows them to investigate the human impulse to create facade through the ornamentation and organization of the landscape.