Elizabeth J. Peak 2016
Ft. Belvoir, VA, 1952
The above image is a reverse aquatint of Grain Elevator from 1980, and best expresses how the mid-west looks to me now. A land that was once identified with plenty, wholesomeness and traditional values has sunk into a morass of drugs bankruptcies and broken families.
I am primarily a print maker working on copper plates making etchings much like they were made in the 17th Century. I frequently make studies in monotype or in watercolor. Recently I have added collage. I have always loved the process of thinking through plans in etching and sometimes wind up changing them dramatically from the initial idea.
For me, landscape subject matter covers a variety of subjects. They are at once a geographic personal history— the mid-western farm fields where I spent a large portion of my formative years, Germany where lived for a year—and nature as a spiritual touchstone, where nature resonates with one's spirit or emotions.
I'm not looking for things that are inherently beautiful. Gas stations, city streets, rural or forested places are all equally compelling. I'm not looking for a specific place like a hometown or famous monument. First, I'm looking for an interesting composition and how that places the viewer in a particular relationship to the subject.
This is the essence of Formalism: to care for all the abstract variables that make up the picture. Secondarily, I look at the literal subject and what may be taking place in terms of light or atmosphere. Finally, I work with realism to resonate with the viewer's experience of landscape.