SEEN AND UNSEEN
In June 2016, I embarked on a journey to Newtok. Newtok is a small, remote Alaska Native village, which is currently threatened by the effects of climate change. Due to drastic erosion caused by a combination of thawing permafrost, low levels of sea ice, and strong storms, Newtok is on the brink of environmental disaster. As I stood in Newtok watching the land crumble away into the surrounding river before my eyes, I was overwhelmed by a sense of sickening irony. Newtok, so beautifully disconnected and remote, has one tragic tie with the rest of the world, which will eventually cause its demise.
Seen and Unseen illustrates and illuminates the disappearing landscape of Newtok. Meticulously painted landscapes unravel as they disappear into a wispy haze of white paint. Screen prints, which, at first glance, appear to be nothing more than blank pages, gently beckon the viewer as they slowly reveal the subtle details of a landscape at the edge of the existence. All of this work points to the serene beauty of Newtok while simultaneously bringing to light its extreme vulnerability.
Seen and Unseen (Newtok #4), 2017. Screen print on Stonehenge paper, 15 x 19 inches.
Seen and Unseen (Newtok #1), 2017. Oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches.
Seen and Unseen (Newtok #4), 2017 (detail). Screen print on Stonehenge paper, 15 x 19 inches.
Sometimes starkly real, and other times other-worldly, Jennifer Cronin employs a captivating sense of realism to explore what it means to be alive in these times. Cronin studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earning her BFA in painting in 2009. She lives and works in Chicago, and is represented by Elephant Room Gallery. When she is not making art or working at her day-job in customer service, Cronin’s favorite place to be is the shore of Lake Michigan.
View and read the other art, stories, and poems from Ruminate's Issue No. 50: What Sustains.
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