The Savannah College of Art and Design presents “High Water Mark,” the latest artwork by Los Angeles-based artist, Kevin Cooley. This immersive installation, created with the support of the university, explores the confluence of demands on our most precious resource — water — in the legendary Western landscapes of lakes Powell and Havasu. Both reservoirs tame the Colorado River to create a reliable water supply for millions of people throughout the Southwest while simultaneously offering “unparalleled opportunities for water-based recreation,” according to the National Park Service.
“High Water Mark” is part of Cooley’s ongoing exploration of manufactured landscapes, our evolving relationship with nature and the connections to hidden architecture of everyday life. The installation depicts the remote canyons of Glen Canyon, now exposed by the declining water levels of Lake Powell and Lake Havasu, near the intake for Colorado River Aqueduct, which directly supplies water to the greater Los Angeles region. The manipulation of these landscapes through the Colorado River Storage Project — a series of midcentury public works projects by the Bureau of Reclamation — secured the future of the American West with the promise to deliver the region from its shortage of water. The slow-paced scenes of “High Water Mark” focus on the texture and scenic beauty of cathedral-like corridors and iconic waterways, punctuated by the disruptive sounds of motorized human presence in the otherwise silent desert landscape.
Cooley’s video work was recently featured in solo exhibitions at the Catharine Clark Gallery, Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, Kopeikin Gallery, The Museum of Photographic Arts, The Nevada Museum of Art, Nuit Blanche Toronto, Pierogi Gallery, Ryan Lee Gallery and The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Cooley’s work is in prominent public collections including 21c Museum Hotel, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum of Photographic Arts, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum.
This exhibition is curated by SCAD guest curator Susan A. Laney.