And the Land Grew Quiet
An Arizona-based artist and farmer, Matthew Moore (b. 1976) is the last of four generations to farm his family’s land. Through his art, using the legacy and scale of Land Art, Morre explores the loss of farmland to urban growth in the metropolitan Phoenix area, as well as contemporary consumers’ alienation from the basic principles of agriculture. And the Land Grew Quiet: New Work by Matthew Moore represents an innovative and new direction in Moore’s work, contrasting the cycles of development and speculation in our own time with those of the Great Depression by mixing technology and nature as well as fiction and history. It is conceived as a single project that maps urban growth on the land and nature’s resistance to the man-made within the sublime context of the harsh but awe-inspiring landscape and climate of central Arizona.
“At this compelling moment in history, it is a wonderful opportunity to work with Matt to reflect on where we are and where we are going,” said James Ballinger, the Sybil Harrington Director, Phoenix Art Museum. “An artist’s perspective strikes viewers in different ways, but it represents fertile moments for new conversations.”
“It is tremendously exciting to work with an artist of the caliber of Matthew Moore, especially given the current growth and change in his artistic practice,” commented Dr. Sara Cochran, curator of Modern and Contemporary art, Phoenix Art Museum. “It has been very stimulating to see Matt think through this new project and to see the different elements take shape in his studio. It will be a haunting and unusual presence in our galleries at the Museum. I think the public will be very surprised by it.”
Moore has overseen his family farm's gradual transformation from fields into suburban housing. As Moore has explained, “As a farmer and an artist, I display the realities of this transition in order to rationalize and document my displacement from the land on which I was raised. The trials and tribulations of American agriculture, its roles in contemporary globalization, and its continually debated ecological practices create a foundation for my explorations. The human condition of transforming space and the Western fascination of Manifest Destiny are the foundations for my explorations; I use land and art to display similarities between commercial agriculture and suburbia, revealing their social, cultural and economic impacts locally, nationally and internationally.”
Moore’s past work includes breathtaking projects on his family’s farm in the West Valley of Phoenix, notably the Rotations series. These projects used the scale of fields and the time-scan of crops to explore the legacy of Land Art and the suburbanization of the West. Moore Rotation: Single Family Residence (2003–2004) placed a 20-acre field of barley next to a newly-built suburban community in which Moore carved out an enlarged plan of a typical single-family tract home. The lines of the floor plan were eight feet wide swaths that the artists hoed from the field by hand, laboriously marking the mapping the rooms of the houses that would soon overtake the field. Two years later, with Rotations: Moore Estates (2005–2006), using the blueprints for a developer’s planned community on land purchased from the artist’s family, Moore re-created the plan at one- third scale in sorghum and wheat on 35 adjacent acres. The artist used a computer-aided design program and a global-positioning satellite system to plot the roads and rows of houses on the field. This first step allowed him to visualize how suburbanization would change his land. More recently, his Digital Farm Collective—a project supported by a Creative Capital grant and shown at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival—used time-lapse photography to film crops and educate consumers about the produce they eat, its growing process on the land and the time-based concepts integral to agriculture.
About the Artist
Matthew Moore was born in 1976 in San Jose, California. He lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona. He received a B.A. in studio art and art history from Santa Clara University, California, in 1998 and a M.F.A. in sculpture from San Francisco State University in 2003. His work has been shown around the country, including at the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, California (2009), the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2008), and MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts (2005). He has been featured in international publications including Metropolis Magazine, Dwell and Architecture Magazine, as well as Mark Magazine and Dazed and Confused of Europe.