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Reece Camp Carter loves to be in the woods. The multi-disciplinary artist managed to create four different installations over the course of a month-long VCCA residency in November/December 2021. Nestled in areas along the walking trails, the pieces reveal themselves subtly, and startlingly, as one comes upon them.

They illustrate the nexus of the seen and the unseen, carefully predicting an event of nature that exists, yet is more prominent in certain conditions. Wind, rain, snow, sound, a natural path, or a simple topographic anomaly are just a few of the elements that the work brings into sharp relief.

One of Carter’s concerns is the nature of human interaction with environment, and the space containing that interaction. She uses natural materials, found on site, to point toward fragility, and the ephemeral qualities of growth, of change, of death. A minimalist, Carter has winnowed her possessions down to essentials, and this is also a salient quality in her current work. She favors simple materials, gathered and used intuitively, assembled without power tools.

In one piece, Nubs Woods #2, she is reminded of a “passing,” or a passage through a cycle, a phase, a new beginning. Another, Heart Woods #1, she covered with cattail fluff, which glows and sparkles in the sun and wind. What makes them so exciting to the viewer is that one can’t tell initially if what they are looking at is an act of natural assemblage. They demand a pause, a careful scrutiny, which then becomes a magical sense of having stumbled upon the sacred. They ask that you look deeply into the essentials, reminding us that we also, are of the earth, the wind, the sky.

On permanent display, the work is aging and incorporating itself into the landscape. Left to their own agenda, they will continue to meld and interact with the environment, with natural elements, and the human gaze — and that is Carter’s intention.


Photos and Story by Paige Critcher