Ghost Mesa: Claire Van Vliet
Although best known for her ground-breaking, award-winning work as founder of The Janus Press, Claire Van Vliet has produced other extraordinary bodies of work. Having lived on the Salisbury Plain near Stonehenge and crossed the Atlantic several times as a child, she has long been drawn to mountains and rock formations, as well as megalithic stone circles and icebergs, which hold an almost talismanic power for her.
The landscape of the American Southwest provides the inspiration for the works exhibited here. In magnificent lithographs, Van Vliet conveys the power and presence of giant rock formations isolated against the sky. She captures the volume and scale of these boulders, crags, ridges, bluffs, and escarpments. She defines the outer and inner contours of the formations by contrasting dark crevasses, so inky they seem to swallow light, with the light-struck granular textures of the plateaus and cliff faces. Using handmade papers, ranging from dense and mottled pulps to delicate Florentine patterns, she adds layers of complexity. These are bracing images—creations of aesthetic rigor and poetic wisdom.
— Mara Williams, Chief Curator
Drawing rocks on lithographic limestone rock feels somehow very right. The rock formations in these prints originated under the great inland sea that covered the center of North America millions of years ago. Lifting with the rising of the continent, they are now over a mile high and continue to be shaped by the sandblasting of the wind.
These variable editions of lithographs are printed on a variety of handmade papers and collaged with pulp paintings and marbled papers. The lithographs were originally made as a component of an ongoing project of variations on a theme.
— Claire Van Vliet