TERRI LOEWENTHAL: Mountain Goat Mountain
September 15 – November 4, 2023
Artist Reception: Saturday, September 16, 6 - 8 PM
CULT Aimee Friberg is honored to announce Terri Loewenthal's second solo exhibition with the gallery: Mountain Goat Mountain. This exhibition presents new photographs made over the last two years during Loewenthal's trips throughout wilderness ranges in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Mountain Goat Mountain opens on September 15th and runs through November 4th, 2023. There will be an artist reception open to the public on Saturday, September 16 from 6 to 8 pm in CULT's San Francisco location (1401 16th Street).
This new body of work is a further evolution of Loewenthal's initial reckoning with the impact of Manifest Destiny and her perspective on the West as a female photographer. In this time of drastic impacts to the climate and our planet, Loewenthal pushed herself, both deeper into the remote landscape and deeper into her process. Using new techniques and handmade tools, she offers her audience the opportunity to look beyond the sublime into a space where awe culminates in a sense of connection and whole-ness, celebrating what it means to be a human in nature.
Loewenthal continues to create photographs using her tool kit of lenses and filters, with which she builds a unique optical construction for each image in front of the camera lens. When Loewenthal looks through her viewfinder, the image she sees is the same image the audience sees on the wall. Of the process, she says that these are "not 'made-up' images, but rather ones that reflect the truth of countless multiplicities: the human capacity for intimacy with land; our connection to a reality that is not merely factual but also arises from emotion and imagination; and our longing for wild, transformative experiences within and without the psyche."
In this new body of work, Loewenthal digs into the push and pull of the fantastical, grounding the photographs in actuality by emphasizing subtle realistic moments, while simultaneously allowing the horizon to play with the prismatic, otherworldly reflections that she constructs in her camera. Copper Lakes is a mind-bending image that captures the tension between a landscape that is recognizable, and her optics. Loewenthal bends the light bouncing off the lake, making it brighter and more visible. When Loewenthal sets out with her tools to work, she is doing so to show the complex and dynamic nature of relationship to the world around us – not as an explorer, but as a reveler in the complex and invigorating places she is privileged to visit.
The creation of each image is an act of commitment and devotion for Loewenthal. Her time, her physical abilities, her mental facilities, and her acute human senses are all employed in their entirety during her photographic treks. In her Summer of 2021 trip to Montana and Wyoming, Loewenthal journeyed to the most remote areas of her career to date. She traveled from outside of Helena down to Yellowstone, through country rarely walked today but previously cared for and lived on by many indigenous tribes: Crow, Blackfoot, Sioux, Umatilla, Walla Walla, Cheyenne, Salish, Eastern Shoshone, Cayuse.
In order to capture Copper Lakes, west of Yellowstone and looking up to Stinkingwater Peak, Loewenthal, hiked 45 degrees up a mountain with all of her gear on her back, crouching and sliding on shale, following a barely used trail from her campsite before dawn, and arriving at an alpine lake right when the sun was directly overhead. She says that she often reaches her destination at this hour, when the light is considered too intense and not optimal for traditional landscape photography. To counter this, in her composition, Loewenthal customizes the colors and manipulates the bright sun in an attempt to capture the unseen. Her images are not solely based on the light, but on where she stands and how she feels. The lake and the mountains are clear, edges layered with flashes of white, and a rainbow of surreal color radiates from the left. Like the iris of the eye, the image transports the viewer directly into the wonder of being out in the wilderness. Loewenthal's photographs radiate elation, inviting her audience to share in the feeling of joy and awe.
Originally from Florida, and having lived in Northern California for the majority of her adult life, Loewenthal has experienced a range of environments where weather can be extreme, but the pattern of the four seasons is famously temperate. After taking her only child to college in September of 2022, Loewenthal immersed herself in the forests of Colorado to experience the transition of time - planetarily, geologically, and personally - alongside the changing autumnal leaves. One of the four photographs from her time in Colorado, Cinnamon Peak, was taken during her hike from Crested Butte to Aspen. Hiking through land once occupied by the Ute, Loewenthal turned her camera not only to the Rocky Mountains, the great spine of our continent, but to the groves and forests that blanket the terrain. In these works, Loewenthal challenges our perspective, reflecting on stewardship and care. The leaves of the Aspens we see in Kebler Pass and Horse Ranch Camp will turn gold and fall, their silvery branches will lay bare, and then green will grow again. The cycle is in sync with the turning of the earth and the passage of the sun through the sky. The macro and the micro are equally present depending on where the viewer focuses in these transcendent photographs, a visual manifestation of the detail and the vista. As stewards of the land we must guide with a gentle hand, know when to intervene and when to take a step back, like the tender touch and patient guidance a parent gives to their child.
Loewenthal describes herself as an “astronaut of the human experience.” Her work addresses the parts of our lives and our world that are difficult to process by not only giving us the aerial view, but also a front row seat, to the ethereal. The photographs in Mountain Goat Mountain are a reminder of our temporary existence on this planet, of the trees that have been growing and the mountains that were formed long before we were here. Loewenthal’s feminist vision of the sublime does not wish to interfere with the otherness of the awesome. Instead, it seeks to look beyond the metaphors of the sacred and the holy, to create a closer connection with our appreciation of Earth’s beauty.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Terri Loewenthal has exhibited at diverse venues including Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA), Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (Berkeley, CA), San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (San Jose, CA) and Booth Western Art Museum (Cartersville, GA). Her work is included in many private, corporate and foundation collections including the City of San Francisco, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, JP Morgan Chase Corporate Art Collection, Facebook and Instagram. She has been featured in many publications including Aperture, Harper's and Wired. She is also founder of The Chetwood, a residency program that provides housing for artists visiting the Bay Area, allowing them to create lasting community with supportive peer networks outside of typical art-making structures. Loewenthal is a frequent collaborator with many Bay Area arts organizations including Creative Growth (Oakland, CA) and SF Camerawork and has been an active musician for over a decade; her bands Call and Response, Rubies and Shock have performed extensively nationally and internationally. Terri has a Bachelor of Arts from Rice University in Houston, Texas and resides in Oakland, CA.The full names for the tribes are listed here: Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla, Tséstho’e (Cheyenne), Salish, Newe Sogobia (Eastern Shoshone), Apsáalooke (Crow), Niitsítpiis-stahkoii ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ).