Paradise Wavering at
University Galleries of ISU

By Sarah Foote

September 18, 2017

  Paradise Wavering  (installation view)

Paradise Wavering (installation view)

Alice Hargrave is a Chicago-based artist working in photography, video, and sound. Her work explores the ephemeral qualities inherent in the endlessly shifting patterns of nature and human experience. Environmental impermanence and the precarious position of the natural world are used to explore the concepts of loss, memory, time, and immersion. Rising above the incredible gravity of the subject matter is the visceral need to find beauty and hope. As a result, a quiet optimism pervades the landscapes she photographs. By bringing the unobtrusive existence of these places to light, quite literally in the Luxury of Night series, she ensures that these moments will remain solidly rooted in the memories of her audience.

   Jill's Chanterelle , 2017, pigment print

Jill's Chanterelle, 2017, pigment print

   River, Night , 2016, pigment print    River, Day , 2016, pigment print  River,   Dusk , 2016, pigment print

River, Night, 2016, pigment print
River, Day, 2016, pigment print
River, Dusk, 2016, pigment print

Hargrave is drawn to her subject matter largely because it mirrors her fascination with the effects of time in photography, and the subtle studio processes used to produce these images. This is especially evident in older found photographs, which Hargrave describes as taking on a different color for every decade. The natural aging and disintegration of image parallels the loss of nature represented in her work, which, just as in the environment, is barely perceptible, but becomes evident as one moves through the collection of moments in Paradise Wavering.

   Trace (Bonsai),    2017  , pigment print

Trace (Bonsai), 2017, pigment print

   The Luxury of Night , 2017, pigment print    Yellow Drift , 2017, pigment print    Maroon Night , 2017, pigment print

The Luxury of Night, 2017, pigment print
Yellow Drift, 2017, pigment print
Maroon Night, 2017, pigment print

Process is as essential to the ideas in Hargrave’s work as the final products are. There is a distance of time between the taking of the photographs and the making of the finished prints that allow for an appropriate period of reflection on the initial moment of capture. Her initial photographs act as notes, which she later works into. The ritual of the studio relates to the languid and ephemeral quality of the work. There is a sublimity in the labor of creation that directly parallels the slow eruption of growth and beauty that occurs in nature. These relics of nature are then imported to the inorganic structure of the gallery, where the care of their inception and fragility of their existence becomes fully apparent. Narrow color contrasts and play of figure and ground highlight the elusiveness of the landscape, drawing the viewer in, immersing them in the moment.

   Green Daze   , 2017, pigment print

Green Daze, 2017, pigment print

Images courtesy of University Galleries of ISU.


Sarah Foote is a Graphic Designer and Artist earning her BFA in design and painting from Illinois State University. In addition to developing Sight Specific’s branding, Sarah has worked as a graphic designer for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, the Vidette, and the Town of Normal. Now working as a freelance designer, her clients include the Town of Normal, Uptown Normal, The Garlic Press, and Jan Brandt Gallery.