13 May 2020

#DrawnToGeoscience: The Earth Talking

Posted by Shane Hanlon


#DrawnToGeoscience is a series of posts by artists who draw about science and explain their process and inspiration while also showcasing their pieces. Learn more about contributing. This week, Charlie Guterman.

I am fascinated by the overlaps between art and science, which feel particularly salient within geoscience. This project, “dialogue: the earth talking,” grew out of my deep fascination with the intersections of art and geology, and the marks that humans generally, and I specifically, make on land.

I am interested in the boundaries between individual and environment, the places where bodies of flesh and bodies of stone slip, crease, weather, and change.  Much of the inspiration and knowledge required to realize this show came out of a field studies trip to Arizona this past winter break with Hamilton College’s Geoscience Department. While there, I learned more deeply about the physical cycles of landscapes, measured time in thousand-year increments, discovered beauty and history in rock formations within National Parks and on the side of freeways. I received generous funding from the Kirkland Endowment to execute dialogue, pursuing questions like, what happens when we artificially divide “civilization” from “wilderness” and exempt ourselves from the bounds of nature? 


This piece depicts a portion of a blocky granite with vertical fracturing and cleavage. The outcrop has a sharp contact zone with darker, finer grained rock beside it, characteristic of a chilled margin at a fault zone, where hot magma cools quickly. I am curious about the double meaning of “fault”as both a slippage and a responsibility. In the context of global climate change and environmental injustice I look to my own hands, and the hands of humans like me, whose folds and puckers echo the granite’s segmentation and ripples. (Pastel on cardboard.) Saguaro National Park, AZ


This piece consists of a sculpted stone tool-turned water bottle. I am curious about the way my generation relates to“nature” and the consumerism surrounding pursuits in the outdoors. There is a development of a sort of wilderness chic, a particular uniform of (expensive, branded) gear that signals wealth and experience. Here my impressions and experiences of outdoor adventure merge into one artifact that is both aesthetic and deeply impractical. Additionally, stone tools of this size enabled ancient hominids to travel long distances (while hunting for food) justas a water bottle allows modern Homo sapiens to bring sustenance to the backcountry. (Glazed ceramic and charcoal.)


The structure of this piece feels reminiscent of a conglomerate, with its blocked out chunks of color and texture. I like working with laundry lint because it’s such a delicate and gross textile byproduct of human life. It very clearly documents our cycles (literal and metaphorical) of living, and the things we leave behind. (Laundry lint on cardstock.)


The outcrop depicted in this piece was most likely a part of the Coconino Sandstone, a layer formed by eolian processes and overlain by the Toroweap Formation and Kaibab Limestone. (Pastel on cardboard.) Grand Canyon, Hermit’s Rest Trail, Grand CanyonVillage, AZ


This fossil is often as beautifully colored as a painter’s palette. (Pastel on cardboard.)
Petrified Wood National Forest, AZ

Charlie Guterman is an Art and Environmental Studies double major at Hamilton College. Find her (newly) @GutermanCharlie.