Our region’s urban lakes are rimmed with people and conversations – wherein the vestiges of the natural rhythms of the water and land are contemplated or passed over. Even though such a space in our landscape is essentially interstitial, it is a gap crammed full of conversations between people, and between people and the lake. Some stories are brimming to the surface, easy to pass your fingers over, and some are buried in the silt on the lake bottom only to be revealed on the patina of objects that once fell overboard. Urban Lake was one way to facilitate those stories from the deep and see them manifested in the contemporary language of six regional artists.
In 2012, Emma Levitt, Lauren Klenow, Hannah Viano, Emily Eagle, Francesca Lohmann and Jessica Bonin participated in a game of 'telephone,' creating new works that connect to each other via a visual and conceptual conversation, using the theme of Urban Lake as the basis for their work.
This children’s game, where words and ideas get distorted through memory and whispers, is a method of experimental curation. It allows the merging of diverse artist processes and mediums (which can be thought of as languages), and it is a way to invite artists to collaborate but still create new individual works.
In the conversation of Urban Lake, Emma Levitt began the game by taking the shape of Lake Union – a lake she had come to know well through living on a boat at its edge – and reproduced the shape hundreds of times, dying each lake a different hue in order to reflect the colors she saw night and day, season to season. With this in mind, Lauren Klenow, who has long been fascinated by geography and its relationship to human temporality, created works that directly reference the changing colors she saw in Levitt’s work, but also give us a sense of the glacial history that provides us the topography on which to stand. Hannah Viano carried the topographic thread from Lauren’s work and used her piece to reveal the connectedness of the natural systems at work and the water cycle with one long piece of black paper. Within her installation are vignettes of personal stories about the lake, stories of love, boats and languid hours in the summer sun. Emily Eagle’s work, one in which she recorded Viano’s stories and underwater sounds, eventually came back to her own love and longing of relationships reflected in the seasons of our latitude, and left her mark on the beeps of an answering machine at the bottom of the lake. Francesca Lohmann, unearthing her childhood memories of manipulating soft earth and sand, channeled the human history of the lake where imaginations made our landscape into hills, houses, stairways, dams, canals and gardens. Sculpted in sandcastles and paper boats, Lohmann’s urbanity is surrounded by the vast expanses of where we can go next. It is within the context of the indelible mark humans have left on our urban waterways that Jessica Bonin take the conversation. Through typographic messages on found marine industrial objects, she lets us see the patina of objects left behind and how we might imagine a new discourse on the cultural use of our urban lakes.
Emma's work explores the relationships between topography and transcendence. Working primarily in printmaking, collage, photography and artist books, she is often inspired by her adventures living, working and traveling by boat. Emma has received awards from 4Culture, Seattle Print Arts and Pratt Fine Arts Center, and is currently working towards an MFA at the University of New Mexico. www.emmajanelevitt.com
Lauren Klenow is an artist and curator who lives, studies and cycles in New York City. A graduate of the University of Washington, Klenow has exhibited at galleries and exhibition spaces in Seattle, Brooklyn, Rome, and Berlin. She is the recipient of the Artist Trust Grant for Artist Projects, the Russell Jaqua Award for Artistic Excellence and recently completed residencies at Centrum in Port Townsend, WA, and the Karl Hofer Gesellschaft in Berlin. She is currently pursuing her MFA at NYU. www.laurenklenow.com
Until recently, art has been fit in around the edges of a life of teaching and adventures from Ketchikan to Cape Horn. An aerial class in Santiago, or landscape watercolors in Taos, I studied whatever a place had to teach me. Now at home in Seattle I am bringing all of those pieces in to widen my eyes as I look at my own surroundings and lead my hand as I work to create modern landscapes and dramatic glimpses of natural history as well as collaborations with artists from all across the arts. www.devilspursediary.com
Emily Eagle has worked as a radio producer, audio engineer, art teacher, museum attendant, English editor, and prep cook. She does blind contour drawings for fun and sport—you can see her busking with her freeform portraits at Folklife every year. She’s currently studying graphic design at Seattle Central Community College.
Born in San Francisco, CA, Francesca Lohmann is multi-media artist working in print, sculpture and installation. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking in 2008 from The Rhode Island School of Design, and is currently completing her Master of Fine Arts at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. She has exhibited in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Providence, and Kyoto. www.francescalohmann.com
I live and work out of a former hardware store and lumberyard in the pastoral art town of Edison, Washington. There, I run a shop called the Lucky Dumpster, hosting the handmade goods of over 50 local crafters and artists. When I'm not working on art or design projects in my cozy little sea level studio, I'm typically occupied by my busy family of two adolescent dogs, two demanding cats, and two curmudgeonly ducks. Either that, or I'm playing drums or guitar in one of my musical projects. And if i'm not doing that, i'm enjoying the outdoors, immersed in the magic of the local landscape. Or thrift shopping. www.jessicalynnbonin.com