Betsy Hale Bannen is an artist and an instructor in drawing and painting at the School of Visual Arts Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Her art focuses on landscapes: specifically landscapes viewed from the air or from an orbital perspective. From this view it is possible to see agricultural areas around the world and the way modern farming has transformed the landscapes.
Betsy writes on her website:
The experience of flying and the views from satellites gives a clear view of the changes humans have imposed on the planet-an impact that to me is both beautiful and disturbing at the same time. And yet there are terrains that defy transformation and it is the meeting point of the man-made and the untamable that is the most fascinating to me-where cultivated land hits desert, where cities meet rivers, and where highways meet mountains. The irregular shapes of the overall paintings reflect that. The specific imagery for the large, multi-paneled paintings is the agricultural lands covering much of the middle US with center pivot irrigation circles and contour farming playing a major role. The circles make a particularly graphic design that both imposes on and is constrained by the land while the contours reveal patterns of a rolling, undulating landscape.
To me, there is a strange intimacy from afar in these views, a sort of voyeurism made possible by the relatively new ability to see our home from that point of view-the gravity-defying sciences of flight and satellite technology have given us an unexpectedly poetic view of where we live. Driving through the seemingly endless fields of crops gives one sense of the magnitude of the human effects on the land, the view from above, quite another.
Her paintings of this landscape are very powerful in revealing all the changes in landscape - the beauty of the patterns created by modern agricultural processes, as well as the moment of realization that this is a painting that closely reflects reality, a reality that is not a painting but resembles a painting that has been mass created out of wild land. She also has lovely black and white graphite drawings that appear to wisps of smoke, but are loosely based on river courses seen from above. Water, so nebulous even seen from above. See more of Betsy Hale Bannen’s work on her Tumblr and her Facebook Page.
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