Stefan Gonzales

Turnpike 710

We travel along at such a pace that we barely recognize the earth beneath us.

Stefan Gonzales. Turnpike 710, 2023
  • September 7 - 28, 2023
  • Opening: Thursday, September 7, 6:00 — 8:00pm

Stefan Gonzales’ practice focuses on decolonizing and feminizing the aesthetics of 1960s and 70s land art, which is strongly associated with the “heroic” masculinity and rugged individualism of artists like Robert Smithson. Smithson’s notorious earthwork, Spiral Jetty (1970), a 1,500-foot-long formation in the Great Salt Lake constructed from over 6,000 tons of displaced dirt and black basalt, alongside other iconic environmental sculptures like Michael Heizer’s Double Negative (1969), contribute to a mythological imprint that obscures the history and preexisting significance of their sites. Gonzales challenges this approach, stating, “These artists talked about big, open, and free geologic locations, but what about the land that Spiral Jetty sits on? Who occupied the land first? That land was not ‘empty’ in the past.”

Turnpike 710 is an examination of North American roadways, comprised of a series of Transitional Non-sites that offer a critical reframing of Smithson’s Non-sites, wherein natural materials (sites) are placed in galleries and museums (non-sites) as sculpture. Gonzales’ hybrids are created with materials collected from undisclosed locations across the Interstate Highway System and various regional freeways. Each element is carefully arranged and accompanied by personal artifacts and interrelated fabrications. Together the objects represent a direct connection and acknowledgment of the land and the stories from which they originated.

There was a time when only the earth could displace herself. Only she could stack layer upon layer of new stone, lift mountains and send them rushing to the sea, move continents across her molten core, and erode valleys and canyons, sending sediment downriver.

Now, we move on our freeways as the pavement seeps into the earth below; stone, steel and asphalt crushed beneath the immense pressures of a nation. The line between roadway and land continues to blur. The interstate cuts through mountains and hills, erodes canyons, and dries up riverbeds–creating new landforms in its wake. The freeway has brought with it a movement of earth that is only rivaled by the earth herself. –Stefan Gonzales

About the Artist

Stefan Gonzales is an artist and arts educator from Colorado, now based in Seattle, who chronicles the lives of ordinary objects through photography, sculpture, and installation. They are Piro/Manso/Tiwa and identify as trans/nonbinary. Gonzales received a BFA from the Cornish College of the Arts in 2016, followed by an MFA from the University of Washington in 2020, where they were awarded the de Cillia Teaching with Excellence Award. They have participated in residencies at Signal Fire Arts in Portland, OR and the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle. Recent exhibitions include The Frye Art Museum’s Boren Banner Series (2022), Melanie Flood Projects (2020), Mount Analogue Gallery (2019), and a large, commissioned installation in partnership with Out of Sight coming this fall.