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What Lies Beneath: The Geology Series by Rachel Sager Lynch

On 17, Sep 2011 | 3 Comments | In Uncategorized | By man-admin


Frack, 2011  22″ x 30″

Marcellus shale, 24 karat gold smalti, vintage Italian smalti, concretion stone, metal fitting

Artist Rachel Sager Lynch digs deep – very deep – for both artistic inspiration and the majority of the materials she uses in The Geology Series.  In this body of work, the mosaicist explores the contentious intersection of nature and industry that is currently a central issue in her beloved farmlands of western Pennsylvania.

Owning property in Western Pennsylvania at this juncture in time is a little like finding oneself on stage. Due to a technological breakthrough in the natural gas industry, drilling companies have descended on our farmland to drill natural gas wells deep into the Marcellus Shale formations 8,000 feet beneath us. The direct effects on the community are large and varied: job creation, financial rescue for struggling farmers, noise pollution, and a fear of water contamination. Drilling has become a phenomenon here and emotions run high.   –  Rachel Sager Lynch

In Frack, Sager Lynch’s primary material is Marcellus shale, the rock which houses the much sought after treasure trove of natural gas.  Here, she employs arcing lines of smalti to emulate the process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”  Is this new industry a good thing or a bad thing for her community?  Sager Lynch’s answer can be found in the industrial fitting filled with white gold that serves as the focal point for the work.  It is both beautiful and ominous.

The Mighty Marcellus Series #1 &  #2 take a more literal approach to her theme – creating cut-away visions of the earth’s layers with the intrusion of gas wells.  Strata are represented with materials Sager Lynch sources herself locally – Coal, copper, sandstone, shale, fossils and even Native American arrowheads.

The Mighty Marcellus Series #1, 2010  11″ x 36″  Slate, marble, Pennsylvania sandstone, Italian smalti, raw copper, copper tubing, photo-luminescent glass, Blenko glass, brick, mica, Native American arrowheads.
The Mighty Marcellus Series #1  Detail
The Mighty Marcellus Series #2, 2011  Marcellus shale, slate, photoluminescent glass, sandstone coal, chalcopyrite, fossils, coal dust, copper savings, galena, vintage Italian smalti, terra cotta roofing tile, unglazed ceramic tile, Native American arrowhead, copper pipe and fittings.
The chaos of andamento and objects at the bottom of #2 is strikingly indicative of the upheaval caused by hydraulic fracturing.
 Mighty Marcellus #2 Detail
Sager Lynch has no fear in combining both man made and natural materials to make a point.  The Geology Series includes two smaller “Mini Marcellus” mosaics that are excellent examples of this.
Mini Marcellus Series #1, 2011  4″ x 12″ Detail
Slate, sandstone, concretion stone, 24 karat gold and vintage Italian smalti, copper pipe and fittings
Mini-Marcellus Series #2, 2011  5″ x 22″ Detail
Slate, coal, sandstone, fossils, galena, Mexican and Italian smalti, marble, copper pipe.
Time also figures into Sager Lynch’s inspiration for The Geology Series.

Time is a tricky concept when thinking geologically.  It dwarfs our human time so completely.  These works are my attempt to represent the layers of time and earth in an accessible and beautiful way.  – Rachel Sager Lynch

The Allegory of Copper, 2011  13″ x 20″ Marble, sandstone, raw native coper, stone concretions, chalcopyrite, vintage and 24 karate gold Italian smalti, unglazed ceramic tile, terra cotta roofing tile, copper pipe and fittings.
 The Allegory of Copper, Detail
The Geology Series is on view now in Washington, Pennsylvania at the Palazzo 1837 Ristorante in an exhibit the artist calls “under-land.”  Go.
UPDATE  March 20, 2013  The Exhibit is now closed.
Enjoy –  Nancie

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  1. Julie Richey

    So beautiful, Rachel! I wish you luck with your show at the restaurant. Good exposure to new clients?

  2. Maureen

    What a marvelous series Lynch has created! I'd love to see this in person.

  3. Jane

    Great post. It's a contentious issue in Australia too.