Droughtscape, 2017

gold-leaf on Monique Meloche gallery windows


Strong scientific evidence shows human-caused climate change is increasing heat waves and severe droughts, as well as extreme precipitation events.  A pattern of intense rain and snow storms and periods of extreme drought has become the new normal in the Midwest since the 1980s.   One of the results of drought is the settling of buildings, leading to various kinds of architectural damage. 

Monique Meloche’s gallery experienced the spontaneous cracking of their plate glass front windows in 2009. This was attributed to settling of the building. The building was erected in 2007.   One block directly to the south of the gallery, the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral, designed by Louis Sullivan, erected in 1903, developed major cracks in the stucco, attributed to the settling of the building.

I duplicated the cracks located on the north-facing wall of the cathedral on the south-facing windows of the gallery, creating a mirror image crafted in gold leaf that is evocative of the church’s dome.

I am viewing architectural history in relation to geological history, which takes place on a completely other scale and time frame, but which has results that can be felt in lived human experience, via architecture in this case.  Climate change may be too slow to seem knowable day-to-day, but those cracks are visible and tangible.  Damage due to drought ties the two buildings together despite their very different origin eras and architectural styles. There is a flattening of History by Nature.   

Metaphorically, this is a meditation on the larger collapse of cultural foundations and our capacity to live on the earth at all, let alone in buildings, in the climate of the future.