Sean Caulfield //+15 Window
August 15 - September 26, 2015
A/P +15 Window Gallery
The North Saskatchewan River is a major feature of the Albertan landscape and the historical and contemporary heart of Edmonton. As a life long Albertan, I am deeply connected to the varied landscapes of this province, with Edmonton’s river valley having a particularly significant influence in my life. In reflecting on and researching our past and present relationship to the North Saskatchewan River I have become increasingly aware of the challenging issues we face in trying to balance the needs of industrial and urban growth with the necessity to protect Alberta’s fragile and unique ecosystems. How can we continue to grow wealth and prosperity while respecting the land that affords us that wealth through its resources? Collectively managing this complex and multifaceted question is crucial in order to ensure that future generations can enjoy both prosperous communities, as well as healthy and diverse ecosystems.
Although there is a unique regional dimension to these questions, societies around the world currently wrestle with issues of development, sustainability and the environment. Confronting social and environmental change is complex and evokes a strong sense of communal anxiety around political and cultural issues, as well as intensely personal questions related to one’s place in the larger fabric of the landscape, environment and world.
With these specific and yet universal themes in mind, I have created a collage, relief print that is a horizontal (scroll-like) landscape populated by enigmatic industrial and biological forms in states of transformation. The project’s title “Eunoe,” references the Greek mythological river of remembrance in the afterlife and asks viewers to consider the ways our environment is being transformed by the forces of urban and industrial growth. This growth is related to broader themes of mutation, metamorphosis, and regeneration involving the landscape and the individuals that inhabit it. Central to this point is the role that the society, community and the individual has in the moment of change. This last point is of particular importance as Eunoe is intended to raise challenging questions for viewers, while simultaneously underscoring the idea that crisis and change - whether it be environmental, political, or personal - is a potentially positive moment for rebirth, courage and growth.
In order to investigate these ideas Eunoe has draw on a number of sources for inspiration including the North Saskatchewan River, German woodcuts from 1500 and 1600, contemporary and historic scientific and industrial illustrations, emaki (Japanese narrative hand scrolls), cartoons, and the prairie landscape of Alberta. By referencing both the past and the present in this way, it is my hope that Eunoe will provide viewers with a multifaceted visual experience reflecting the complexity of how contemporary attitudes towards technology, industrialization and the environment are shaped by a myriad of factors including personal experience, regional history, political, social, scientific forces and cultural factors such as religion and mythology.