It was early in the Ages
when Nothing was,
neither sand nor sea
nor cool waves;
Earth was nowhere to be found, nor sky above. A Gap there was of yawning spaces and nowhere grass. — Snorri Sturluson, early 1200s, Iceland
The Holocene Epoch began about 12,000 years ago at the close of the Paleolithic Ice Age and continues through today. It encompasses the growth and impacts of the human species worldwide, including all of our written history, the development of major civilizations, and the transition toward urban living.
Human activity has made an indelible impact on Earth’s geology and all of Earth’s systems, especially since the beginning of the “Great Acceleration” in the 1950s. In recognition of this reality, a new geological time-marker has been proposed by stratigraphic experts to signal the end of the Holocene Epoch and the beginning of a new one: the Anthropocene.
I have been privileged to experience the otherworldly beauty and the deep silence of the Icelandic landscape. At the same time, I know that to physically access these fragile places is also to consume them, and that makes me complicit in their destruction. It is a painful truth. We live in a time of radical change, and I feel the grief that accompanies a sense of the inevitable losses to come. As a visual artist, I am compelled to find expression for these universal and human feelings, to act as transmitter of who, where, and why we are now. The Anthropocene, and all that it implies, creates an urgent context for my thinking about the realities of the here and now.
Two years ago, before I had even heard of the word Anthropocene, in Iceland, I experienced a personal awakening, a paradigm shift in the way I see and relate to my world. I stood alone, facing a mountain, in silence. I was balanced on a sliver of time, the now. I felt time sweeping through me, connecting me to the past and the future. It was a dizzying feeling of simultaneous presence and loss. I felt a profound sense of connection to Earth. I felt the deep time of its geologic substance.
I wasn’t looking to complicate my relationship with nature. But the plein air landscape paintings I had been doing up until that time no longer felt relevant to me. How to depict a landscape that was slipping away before my eyes?
In response, I began to develop a new visual language. Through simple forms and stable, uncluttered compositions, I want to evoke a landscape that exists outside of the flow of time. It’s a way of absorbing the shocks and worries of the Anthropocene—imagining an unpopulated Earth, a place where humanity is insignificant within the context of all-time and the yawning gap of the universe.
ARTerrain Gallery | Geologic | Mixed Media By Andrea Krupp
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About the Artist
Through visual art and the written word, Andrea Krupp engages with the exterior world—place/earth—and the interior landscape of self. She received a BFA in printmaking from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She is a visual artist, rare book conservator, historian, and diarist.