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Sound the Alarm: Landscapes in Distress
by Leigh Ross, Associate Curator
Wave Hill, New York   2008

Since Joan Perlman’s initial trip to Iceland in 1995, she has returned often, drawn to the restlessness of its active geology. Over time, she has observed the receding glaciers and changing river patterns that are evidence of climate change. To her, the mutability of the landscape has taken on an inchoate sense of fragility and loss. Her interest in the implications of these extreme changes has informed her paintings, which she considers to be abstracted stories of personal experience, rather than formal observation. The resulting compositions convey the sensuous, primal qualities of the Icelandic landscape, and reflect her perceptions of its changing shape. In this way, her paintings move beyond realism to grapple with nature in its most elemental form, and they resonate with a deeply felt sense of place.