Portfolio Header Beth Steffel



Artist Statement

While spending time in the vastness of the desert, I began building temporary, site–specific sculpture and photographing and videoing them during their creation, decay, and eventual destruction. The sculptures came to be known as “Constructions” and the photographs came to be known as numbered “Investigations”. After leaving the desert, I have continued to build and document these Constructions through various climactic and weather conditions.

Building these Constructions began as an intuitive reaction to the unique character of the desert. As I explored and reflected upon my initial intuition, I realized that the Constructions and Investigations revealed a deeper truth. As the vastness and complexness of reality cannot be directly understood, the Constructions have become a mini, alternate reality on a scale that is more readily understood. The Constructions affect and are affected by the larger reality, but the relationships between the elements are more directly observable in the Construction reality. The Investigation photography captures, makes tangible, and draws attention to the ephemeral instances of serendipity and synergy present in the Constructions. As I push the Construction’s materials and boundaries, the inherent internal logic and unique morality of the constructions continue to emerge and shape themselves.

For the gallery installation, I chose a space and image–specific arrangement. I arranged and installed the photographs to create continuances among the forms, lines, and colors of the individual images in order to construct parallels and relationships between the individual images and the larger reality. This installation lends an architectural sense to the Investigation photographs of the temporary sculpture. Clearly, because of the scale, color, and texture contrasts, the images originate from different Constructions, times, or views (or perhaps all three). However, with the specific arrangements, I draw attention to the parallels and highlight the similarities rather than just acknowledge the differences.

While working on these constructions, I often feel like a scientist who has discovered what seems to be a completely alien place. Only upon examining the place, does the explorer realize the parallels between the alien world and his/her own world and that investigating this other reality directly and significantly enriches the explorer’s understanding of his/her own reality.