Theme parks, simulated landscapes — we are all familiar with them and flock to them as a form of escape from our everyday settings. Mary Anne Kluth draws a parallel from the them park to the landscape in her collage work, creating landscapes so exaggeratedly sublime that they become artificial. Her works, an array of colorful digital and traditional collages, examine the construction of these blissful lands.
With inspirations varying from a past job restoring a theme park in Oakland, CA to texts by botanist William Brewer, Kluth gathers evidence that expounds on our attachments to these “happy wastelands.” Using a personal collection of snapshots of fake theme park landscapes and a little Photoshop, she pieces together both digital and hand-cut collages to match Brewer’s journal entries, producing improbable Romantic yet surreal landscapes.
Through her work she intends to create pivotal questions around American culture. Theme parks often offer experiences that abstract and displaces actual geographical travel, and they seek to ignore many political, economic and ideological tensions. Are they then compressing the visuals of a world into a single day while sparing its audiences the vulnerability of confronting harsher realities?
Kluth’s work is currently on display at the Bedford Gallery of the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, CA as part of a group show called “Sky: A National Juried Exhibition,” on view through May 25, 2014.