Nowadays, Gregory is an artist and teacher living and working in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, and part of our Meet the Artists series. We asked him to tell us more about how he developed his appreciation for the natural landscape, and how it informs his work.
Lisa Temple: Nature plays a big role in your art. When did you first become interested in it as a subject?
Gregory Euclide: I’ve always been interested in the interconnectivity of things, especially when it comes to ecology. Growing up, my surroundings had a profound effect on how I view the world. I can now, finally, understand why those things are important to me.
LT: “Interconnectivity” is a good word to use with your art, but tell us what that means to you.
GE: Land can be used physically to many ends, for resource or recreation, but also used for ideological purposes. Images of land are used to sell products. In advertising and the media we’re fed an endless stream of idealized nature scenes. On calendars, in photographs and in art we’re taught what is valuable, what is worth preserving, what is wild, natural, and beautiful. When I look at those images I can’t help but notice the similarities – large open expanses with one-point perspectives, pulling the viewer toward some monumental natural feature in the distance. It appeals to our desire to witness nature but to remain separate from it.
Detail: Panicum, Carbon Break
What these images avoid showing is the effect of our lifestyle on the land: images of mountainsides removed for roads, landfills the size of towns, decreased river flows due to farm irrigation. Those images don’t help sell the feeling of limitless resources and prosperity. Those images cause alarm; they make people worry about how their actions might be the cause of such scenes. In my practice I like to bring those diverse images together, acknowledging that they all have a part in defining the landscape.
LT: We sometimes see abstract geometric forms and structures juxtaposed with the natural elements in your work. What are these about?
GE: Behind every organic form there is an attempt to explain it with scientific systems. Behind every term like “natural” or “wilderness” there is a structure of beliefs that determine how one defines these elusive terms. I make those things visible as abstractions.
LT: Besides the natural world, who or what are your other sources of inspiration?
GE: Musically: Dictaphone, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Bon Iver… I really respect and respond to music. A lot of what happens in the studio is dependent upon the music or the weather. Artistically: Yoko Ono, Rachel Whiteread, Chris Burden, the members of Arte Povera, Simon Starling, Sara Sze. Literature: William Cronon, WJT Mitchell, Malcolm Andrews, Jennifer Price. Generally: The strength of Human Rights Activists. My partner, Jennifer.
LT: What’s up next for you?
GE: I’m making a few album covers for some musicians I admire. I just printed my first multi-layered print for the Minneapolis College of Art and Design Art Auction. I will also have a couple solo shows in 2015. I’ve got a nice full plate.