Friday, October 24, 2014

The Story of Two Sculptures

Well, I did it. I knitted two sculptures. I am still unsure about this new experiment of mine of knitting a sculpture but I submitted them anyway to an exhibition. I truly enjoyed the process, both the creative planning, thinking, dreaming, and the knitting. The first sculpture is the one I talked about on my previous post. I called it Cross Section: Great Salt Lake. Here is the finished piece with some information (or label for you museum geeks out there).

Virginia Catherall
Cross Section: Great Salt Lake, 2014
Silk/stainless steel yarn

Great Salt Lake’s shoreline is receding with the season becoming salty and white. The north arm of the lake is super saturated with salt where halorarchaea bacteria flourish. On the northern shores, the white is tinged with pink from the colorful bacteria. The north side became more salty when the Lucin Cutoff railroad causeway was built across the lake in the 1950s creating two distinct environments. The Great Salt Lake ecosystem is knitted together with its geography; change one thing, change everything.

The second sculpture came about after one of my trips to the shore of the lake. I am always intrigued by what I find in the salt bed of the evaporating lake. I have been collecting odds and ends for years. The salty lakebed is like a knitted fabric, knitting in the ecosystem and other flotsam with salt crystals instead of yarn. So, I created a small piece of the dry lake bed with bits that I collected from the lake shore over the years. I called it Dry Lake Bed: Great Salt Lake

Virginia Catherall
Dry Lake Bed: Great Salt Lake, 2014
Silk/stainless steel yarn, bamboo/copper yarn, glass, bone, salt, flora, fauna

Great Salt Lake is a terminal lake, the only way water leaves it is by evaporation, And because it is such a shallow lake–an average of 14 feet–about 2.6 billion gallons evaporate from the lake every day. Evaporation leaves minerals and salts behind making the lake one of the saltiest in the world. The salinity ranges from 5 to 27% (the world’s oceans average 3.5%). The rapidly evaporating shoreline traps animals, plants, bacteria, and objects in the salty crust; knitting the remains of an ecosystem within its crystals.

Both of these are knit with silk/stainless steel yarn so they are slightly moldable. This helps with making them more three-dimensional. But the yarn memory is a little hard to fight against. I will find out in a week or so if either piece was accepted. They aren’t the traditional sculptures that come to mind, but you never know.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Knitting a sculpture of Great Salt Lake overlooking Great Salt Lake

I am attempting to knit a sculpture. It is an experiment and might not work out but I want to submit something to the Utah Arts and Museum Painting and Sculpture exhibition and some of my pieces are just too “crafty” (read functional) to be submitted.

I, of course, am still interested in Great Salt Lake and lately I have been ruminating on its changing nature. Every time I go out there, the lake seems to be shrinking. It is almost at historic lows right now so the outline of the lake is very different than in past years. It became very clear when my husband and I took a trip on Skyline drive last weekend in the mountains above Bountiful, Utah. The view of the lake is spectacular but the low levels are very apparent.

The lake’s shoreline becomes more and more salty and white from the evaporating water. On the northern shores, the white becomes tinged with pink from the halorarchaea. The north arm of the lake is super saturated with salt and the bacteria flourish so the water is noticeably pink. So much so that you can see the difference from Google Earth! The north side became more salty when the Lucin Cutoff railroad causeway was built across the lake in the 1950s creating two distinct environments in the lake. Several reasons are given for this difference and you can read about them here if you are interested…or are a layperson Eco-geek like me.

All this crazy chaos of the lake has captured my attention. I am trying to knit a cross section of the lake showing the growing salty shores, the blue south arm, the pink north arm, and the pink-tinged salt. I am knitting it with steel and silk yarn that can be sculpted and molded when I am done. You can see me knitting the sculpture while overlooking the lake above. Like I said, this is an experiment. Stay tuned to see how it turns out.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Golden Spike!

This year, I have visited Spiral Jetty no less than five times, which means that I have also visited the Golden Spike National Historic Site five times. Golden Spike is the last chance for a bathroom before driving out to Rozel Point so of course we have to stop. But beyond that, the historic site is really a destination in itself for the majority of the non-art-nerds from all over the world. It was at Promontory Point at the northern end of Great Salt Lake that the two railroads met in 1869 to complete the first transcontinental railroad in American history.

Apparently, there was a lotof pomp and circumstance around the event. With drunken officials, multiple spikes and some staged events for dramatic purposes. Today there are reproduction engines that perform (with live steam!) every Saturday. The shocking thing is that the real golden spike is not even at the visitor’s center. It is at Stanford University in California.

The Golden Spike visitor center apparently has a reproduction.

With all of my visits this year, I thought I would create some quick-to-knit socks that evoke the great colors of the railroad ties and the golden spike. The textures, colors, and even the little railroad heel all remind me of the crazy way humans like to commemorate important events, with precious metals and ceremony.

So to commemorate visiting the Golden Spike National Historic Site five times (so far) this year, I have created the Golden Spike socks, maybe I should engrave something on them…