Sides of a Line
Hamiltonian Gallery, Washington, DC
In Sides of a Line, Heather Theresa Clark abstracts domestic space and puts it in tension in a kinetic sculpture that references home-making in the age of climate change.
Sides of a Line takes its visual cues from the aesthetics of Western success as performed in the home. The work alludes to the paradox and anxiety of a privileged life in the age of climate change – as we pursue the American Dream through meticulous home-making and associated consumption, we make humanity less secure globally.
Using a palette of beeswax, military parachutes, and marble laminate, Clark abstracts domestic space and puts it in tension. In this kinetic sculpture, she forces two walls along a track in a slow, mechanized, repetitive collision. Running the length of the piece is a tightrope. In future iterations, this piece will include performance by a tight rope walker. Despite her critique of contemporary life, embedded within the installation are small clues of hope: references to nature, biophilia, and sensory experience, which provide alternative patterns for living and invite us to engage with our bodies.
Although Sides of a Line explores global issues, it is highly personal. As a mother of two young children, Clark contemplates the threat that climate change poses to our very notion of home and attempts to peel back the illusion that her own pursuit of a comfortable and safe home for her family is not tied to macro issues.
As 2017 artist-in-residence at Woods Hole Research Center, a leading climate change think tank, Clark was confronted with data on the humanitarian crisis that is emerging in the wake of climate change due to storms, food insecurity, limited resources, and associated conflict. As described in a US Department of Defense 2015 congressional report “climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water.”