This Land Is Me
This exhibition highlights the work of three artists – Saif Senussi Azzuz, Kim Champion, and Emily Van Engel – who use abstraction to express ideas related to land care. Employing approaches that range from personal to cultural to imagined, selected works here show how abstraction can be a powerful tool for exploring how we can situate ourselves within the land; a vital first step towards restoring and protecting it.
Saif Senussi Azzuz
Saif Senussi Azzuz is a Libyan-Yurok artist whose paintings explore the interconnected and dynamic practices of Indigenous land management. Created using acrylic, dye and enamel on canvas, his bold large-scale works use an abstracted visual language to show care of ancestral lands as a process that is characterized by constant change and activity (a stark contrast to the idea of an unchanging ‘pristine wilderness’). The titles for his pieces are conversational and often include Yurok language, further highlighting traditional and contemporary culture side-by-side, and asserting Yurok people’s deep, ongoing commitment to land stewardship.
Bay Area artist Kim Champion’s series My Father’s Garden is a visual tribute to the connection she shares with her father and the importance of her family’s land. Drawing the flora she remembers from her father’s extensive Mississippi garden, Champion uses abstraction to blend different plants into one organic form. The connection between different elements in these beautiful drawings become a metaphor for a family’s bond with each other and with their land. In a similar way, Champion’s Quiet drawings are meditations on nature that use line and shape to nurture a deeper connection with the landscape.
Emily Van Engel
In her new series of paintings, Emily Van Engel searches for a future without crisis through assigning positive meaning to colors – lavender is peaceful and represents health, mauve is collaborative and represents democracy, and so on. While her past representational landscape work has literally exposed environmental exploitation through the use of the medium of pollution, in this new work Van Engel is more compassionate and visionary. The colors are uplifting and the fluid forms, including a repeated web pattern, represent the weaving together of disparate elements to create a structure that Van Engel describes as “what it feels like to support each other to create a society and environment in balance.”
CONNECT WITH THE ARTISTS
This Land Is Me is presented as part of the national series Extraction: Art on the Edge of the Abyss.