The Lake Project comprises images from Owens Lake, the site of a formerly 200 square-mile lake in California on the eastern side of the Sierra Mountains. Beginning in 1913, the Owens River was diverted into the Owens Valley Aqueduct, to bring water to Los Angeles. By 1926, the lake had been depleted, exposing vast mineral flats and transforming a fertile valley into an arid landscape. For decades, fierce winds have dislodged microscopic particles from the lakebed, creating carcinogenic dust storms. Indeed, the site has become the highest source of particulate matter pollution in the United States, emitting 300,000 tons annually of cadmium, chromium, arsenic and other materials. The concentration of minerals in the remaining water yields blooms of microscopic bacteria, turning the liquid a deep, bloody red. The lake has become the locus of water’s absence, a negation of itself, a void. The images serve, in a sense, as the lake’s autopsy. Viewed from the air, vestiges of the lake appear as a river of blood, a microchip, a bisected vein, or a galaxy’s map. It is this contemporary version of the sublime that Maisel finds find compelling– a strange beauty born of environmental degradation.
The Norton Museum of Art was founded in 1941 by Ralph Hubbard Norton (1875–1953) and his wife, Elizabeth Calhoun Norton (1881–1947). The Nortons were actively interested in fine arts and developed a sizable collection of paintings and sculpture. The Museum Collection consists of 7,000+ works of art concentrated in the following departments: European, American, Chinese, Contemporary and Photography.
Maisel is the recipient of a 2011 grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, a 2008 Artist Residency from the Headlands Center for the Arts, and a 2007 Scholar/Artist Residency from the Getty Research Institute. Maisel has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Opsis Foundation. He was appointed a Trustee of the Headlands Center for the Arts in 2011. His work has been shown globally, including in such prestigious institutions as the California Museum of Photography (CA), Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (AZ), Portland Art Museum (OR), Fotografie Forum International (Frankfurt), American Academy (Rome), Musee des Beaux Artes (Bordeaux), and Seoul Arts Center (Seoul) among many other venues. Maisel’s works are in major public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), the Getty Museum (CA), the National Gallery of Art (D.C.), the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (CA), among many other institutions. He received his BA from Princeton University, studied at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and received his MFA from California College of the Arts. The artist lives and works in Sausalito (CA).
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