Inland Sea refers to New Mexico’s geological history and the time in which the desert was a marine environment. While the ancient sea is long gone, much of the rock from this time remains, and the desert environment, in many ways, retains the vastness of an open sea. The sense of space is an important part of the artwork in this Xeriscape series and invites viewers to alter their awareness of the space they inhabit. Allyson Packer explores spaces in urban landscapes and begins each piece by talking to homeowners to capture the character of domestic landscaping in the southwest.
The photographic documentation is altered by a tedious process of digitally removing selected elements of each image. The remaining objects in the photographs are left unchanged, preserving their exact location in the landscape and highlighting the homeowner’s unique approach to spatial composition. Each piece is titled after the street number of the home where it was photographed. While this artwork comes from a belief in the aesthetic value of our region’s vernacular landscaping tradition, it also interrogates commonly held conceptions of space in an urban context. It questions the way we typically perceive space, boundaries, and physical barriers in our built environment.
In contrast, the minimal, open spaces in this body of work ask viewers to envision the possibility of space as an uninterrupted continuum, free of the barriers that restrict our movement from one place to another. The choice to use street numbers to title the photographs reinforces this concept, with each number representing a unique point along a potentially infinite numerical continuum and each composition reminiscent of an inland sea.