To Possess the Desert
The desert is an animal. It comes at you in layers. Just as you feel you have captured one element, it slips away and you are struggling to understand another. Soon enough it surrounds you, and your senses are immersed in the cicadas buzzing, the terracotta-colored soil, the potent chamisa and the dry, heavy air. Whatever you do will never be quite enough to fully contain the overwhelming emotion in the desert. You feel you want to possess it but you know you will never get there.
The only way to capture it is to impose some sort of order. Agnes Martin’s works inspired by New Mexico make an attempt to organize the entropy of the desert. The pastel colored layers are as a close to an approximation of the entropy of the desert as I have ever seen. The washes blend into each other, as senses will fade, one into another, when you are amongst the cacti and soil. The layers are still there though, reflecting the endless noises, colors, scents and feelings of the dry land.
I live away from the desert now , but I still want to dive into the noisiness, the smells, the heavy heat, the assault on my senses. When I want to go there, I look at Agnes Martin’s work, dive into it and let the desert wash over me.
Molly Nelson Regan
Molly Nelson Regan currently lives in New England and has worked at design, photography and writing roles and museums for the past several years. She uses her background in anthropology to write witty tweets about art. Outside of work, you will find her hanging out with dogs, skiing or doing anything ocean- or mountain-centric.
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