These works are based upon natural phenomena encountered by the artist in the back country of the American West following her retreat from community organizing as it culminated with the end of the Occupy movement. Titled after radical figures who have retreated into the wilderness in order to realize their vocations, they express a return to bare life as a subversion of compromised social roles. Volatile forms explore the permeability of body and environment as an exchange that refutes the contemporary logic of the self as defined by oppressive social structures.
"In the Ninth Year, When the Gaze Became the Wall (Daruma)," Graphite on Paper, 44" x 30" 2014
"The Psalmody of Ed Abbey," Graphite on Paper, 40" x 26" 2014
"The Pilgrimage of Everett Ruess," Graphite on Paper, 44" x 30" 2014
"The Miracle of Bas Jan," Graphite on Paper, 44" x 30" 2015
"Radical Landscapes" exhibition at the di Rosa. Photo credit: Wilfred J. Jones
"Communion, The Biologist" Watercolor and Graphite on Paper, 50" x 32" 2015
"The Hypostasy of Ann Clayborn," Graphite on Paper, 44 x 30" 2016
"Hermitage (Juana Maria)," Watercolor and graphite on paper, 30 x 22" 2016
"Water Discipline" exhibition at Interface Gallery
Prima Materia is an exhibition of works on paper, crystallized tumbleweeds, and photographic source material that explores the artist's understanding of natural hot springs as liberatory zones.
The exhibition, curated my Mixed Use at Minnesota Street Projects in 2017, also featured a lecture in which the artist discussed natural hot springs as contingent spaces where social norms are suspended, catalyzing intimacy and communion. After years of seeking out natural hot springs in the American West, Sims identifies these spaces as subversive microcosms that comprise a delicate membrane between the geologic underworld and our own. To enter these pools is to subvert the traditional phenomenology of the human form: to trade standing for submersion, surveillance for a ground-eye view. A visitor to the springs is encouraged to embrace self-effacement while forging moments of solidarity within an otherwise atomized society.
The exhibition's works on paper feature highly articulated drawings of earth, water and stone dissolving within the abstraction of uncontrolled media such as watercolor and ink. These forms mutate beyond the constraints of identity, suggesting the elusive power of ephemerality, volatility, and convergence.
"38.0071° N, 119.0123° W (Nagit Paoha, Mono)," Watercolor and Gouache on Paper, 48" x 48" 2016
To create these works, the artist first creates miniature paintings using watercolor and mineral pigments derived from the earth. The pigments are applied to non-absorbent paper, which records the natural processes of the paint as it dries. These captured processes of pooling, evaporation, layering and sedimentation present a microcosm of the processes that shape the planet. These miniatures are then greatly enlarged via digital manipulation, bringing every detail into high relief, and re-composed as reflected landscapes whose symmetry recalls the body. These landscapes locate the intimate within the immense, evoking both macro-cosmic and mineral origins of biology.