About the Current Work
About five years ago, I started a series of paintings after being inspired by reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. He wrote about walking the Appalachian Trail, but one of his sidetrips took him to a small, almost abandoned mining town in Pennsylvania called Centralia. The story of this town just pressed all my buttons –in 1962 an underground fire was ignited at the dump just outside town, and it continues to burn today. My adventurous husband and I have visited this eery place twice – the ground smokes, and the smell of sulfur is pervasive. A few houses still stand (as people voluntarily evacuated, their homes were raized), buttressed on each side with brick ribs to stabilize them against a less-than-stable earth beneath them.
I was fascinated with this phenomenon of – literally – earthshaking things going on beneath us, out of our sight, wild fires raging in caverns no one will ever see. I figure there must be a thousand wordless dramas being played out beneath the visible surface of the earth, roiling, shaking, and shifting the seemingly firm ground we stand on. Cool.
Working over several years with these thoughts in mind took me, then, to ideas of geological layers, plate shifts, and the common beauty of rocks and stones – the currency of geology. The current stuff is more or less a continuation of these ideas – in these paintings I’m interested in seeing how rocks sort of “talk” with the painted surface they sit on, how a created thing (my painting) and a thing plucked from nature can interact with one another in a compelling way. I’m aiming for a visual hum and buzz generated from the chat between their respective colors and textures.
-- Kate Hammett, February 2005