The Continental Interior: An installation by Val Britton
Exhibition Dates: November 14, 2012 - January 26, 2013
Location: The SFAC Galleries window installation site at 155 Grove Street
Hours: On View 24/7
Public Event: Val Britton in conversation with Amanda Hughen and Jennifer Starkweather. Moderated by Aimee Le Duc
Wednesday, November 14, 6:30-8:30pm
6:30-6:45 pm: Introduction of Continental Interior at 155 Grove Street
6:45-7:45 pm: Conversation with Val Britton, Amanda Hughen and Jennifer Starkweather at SFAC Main Gallery
7:45-8:30 pm: Reception
Free, open to the public.
The San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries presents The Continental Interior, a site-specific installation by Val Britton. Drawing on the language of maps, Britton makes imaginary landscapes that depict physical and psychological spaces. For The Continental Interior, Britton expands the boundaries of her art practice in paper collage, painting, drawing and printmaking by breaking out of the two-dimensional into three-dimensional space, creating a large-scale installation made from hand cut, organic paper shapes that resemble landmasses.
Ranging in scale from 5 feet wide to less than an inch, these paper shapes are suspended in the air with thread that create a delicate network of lines from the ceiling and walls, twisting and torqueing in midair. Britton’s interest lies in exploiting the tactile quality of the papers. Some papers are a heavy stock with more weight and mass, others are thinner or vintage paper of unknown origin that crumples and floats in the air. Some are thick and opaque, others light and translucent. The papers are double-sided and are printed with subtle textures and patterns using intaglio printmaking processes or they are painted and stained with ink and watercolors.
These paper forms are combined with another series of suspended sculptures that use paper strips to form geometric, lattice-like structures. The forms range in size and resemble street grids or spider webs. Combining these geometric constructions with the organic paper forms creates an abstract, suspended landscape.
Val Britton is also interested in the interplay of light and shadow in this piece, as well as the subtle movement of air, and how these factors will animate the piece as the natural light shifts throughout the day and night. The light creates dramatic shadows within the piece, projecting geometric and organic patterns onto the paper and floor.
The title of this installation, The Continental Interior, has multiple meanings for Britton. She explains, “[Continental Interior] refers to the interior plains of North America, which were created almost 2 million years ago. This land was once covered by a large inland sea and coral reefs, but is now a low relief area. The land is calm, without much tectonic activity, and belies the powerful forces that created it. The word ‘continent’ refers to the land-like shapes in this piece that seem to be recognizable forms extracted from maps but are in fact products of the imagination. ‘Interior’ describes not just the land-locked part of our country, but an emotional state, an inner place. Much of my work seeks to carve out a space in between what is known and unknown, a physical and psychological space.”
Britton continues, “Living in California, I find myself on the edge of the continent. Near the coast and the dramatic bluffs of the Marin Headlands, I am acutely aware of the plates that collided and the powerful forces that created this landscape. My work is infused with an underlying current of environmental urgency. Many of my materials, from paper, paint, ink, and thread, have been scavenged from our city dump in San Francisco. By repurposing materials, I want to divert them from the landfill and curb my contribution to the waste problem. But I also see the transformative potential in recycled components as an inspiration for innovation. The unknown histories of these found materials create a layer of embedded meaning for me, what is lost and then found, the history of someone else’s unknown journey.”