Sean McFarland: Glass Mountains

Terminal 1

October 2014 - November 2014

"There are several modes of viewing the landscape—in person, through books and magazines, and through the work of others; to me, no one form of sight is more pure than another. I am less interested in the landscape as seen by the early photographers of the American West than in the landscapes created through their images."

—Sean McFarland
Rochester, New York  2013

Sean McFarland: Glass Mountains

Southern California-born photographer Sean McFarland’s work explores the relationships between the processes of image making, veracity, and the representation of landscape. McFarland’s Glass Mountains series refers to the mesas and buttes found in national and state parks in West Texas, Oklahoma, and California. The term originates from minerals like gypsum or selenite crystals that sparkle and glisten when sunlight hits the slopes and mountaintops.

Glass Mountains is composed of installations from collections of photographs presenting nature as literal artifice. The photographs are made using images from McFarland’s personal archive, as well as found printed material and images from the Internet. The resulting photographs exist as both re-photographed collages and images made straight from a camera. Produced from the abstraction of man-made materials and elements from the natural world, these works continue to blur the lines between unbiased documentation, expectation, and sentimental mythology. Glass Mountains depicts immediate and obvious alterations of the environment. By focusing on making images of the natural world, McFarland makes pictures of us, how we change the earth, and how the earth changes us.

Sean McFarland earned his MFA from the California College of the Arts in 2004. He has exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Berkeley Art Museum; SF Camera Works; The San Jose Museum of Art; White Columns, New York, New York; and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. He received the 2005 Phelan Art Award in Photography; the 2009 Baum Award for an Emerging American Photographer; the 2009 John Guttmann Photography Fellowship; and a 2011 Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation, San Francisco, California. His work is included in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, Oakland Museum, Berkeley Art Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art Library. McFarland currently lives in Rochester, New York, where he is a visiting assistant professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. 

©2014 by the San Francisco Airport Commission. All rights reserved.