I love topography. This should be obvious to even a casual reader of this blog. So I was delighted to have the opportunity to work with a local scientist on my first commission highlighting some spectacular scenery.
Professor Doug Edmonds of the Geology Department at Indiana University had a very particular formation that he wanted to be the subject of a linocut. During a meeting at his campus office, he explained that the Mossy River Delta in Cumberland House, Saskatchewan, Canada is a very new formation, not only for geological time, but in recorded human history as well.
The topography of this area of the Canadian Shield is quite flat in elevation. The shield in this area is made up of very old volcanic rock formations, covered with a thin layer of soil. The Mossy River went through a process called avulsion, where the river rapidly abandoned its course and formed a new river channel. This process is caused by the interplay between the slope of the river's course and the relationship between sedimentation and elevation. At some point the water decides to search for a new and faster way to reach the larger body of water beyond.
Carving the topography of the Mossy River Delta.
So within the last century, this river jumped its banks and gradually formed the new Mossy River Delta. River deltas follow particular fractal shapes that Professor Edmonds wanted to celebrate. Usually when I portray topography, I have lots of views of an area, but I create my own design. It was very freeing to already have an outline to follow. I could then focus on using colors and textures to create a linocut that draws the viewer into the scene.
What must it have been like to see this river change course? The town of Cumberland House has a small population of 2000 people today. Were any of these people alive when the river started over its banks? Geology is mostly a science of long time, so I am fascinated when something occurs within our collective human memory.
Renaissance at Mossy River will make its debut at the Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts in Bloomington, IN this weekend. My tent is in the shade and there will be lots of free water, so don't let the heat deter you. There will be many beautiful artistic creations to enjoy.