In creating her “horizonscapes,” Katie Maratta acknowledges an apparent contradiction. While the literal picture plane is incredibly small – one inch high and up to four feet long – the visual space it suggests is vast. The technique is understated and monochromatic, yet the elements of the composition retain their weight and authority.
Upon moving to Texas in the mid 1990s, Maratta was struck by the rich visual experience of West Texas. While these wide-open expanses and long lonely highways may be the stuff of clichéd country songs and western movies, they continue to evoke wonder for the Princeton (BA studio Art) educated artist who calls Austin home.
For Maratta, the format suggests a sense of “passing by”-as if one is seeing the expanse from a travelling car. The viewer mimics that sense of travel as the eye moves from left to right across the length of the piece. While in reality the subject matter – silos, great expanses of grassland, wind turbines-dwarfs the viewer, in the gallery setting, it is the viewer that is the giant. Forms scattered along the horizon line represent a basic geometry lesson: hay bales are circles, roofs are triangles, and farm houses are rectangles. The viewer, then, becomes the vertical element completing the intersection. Such contradictions/elements engage the viewer in unexpected ways so that the act of “seeing” becomes more deliberate, more conscious, and in the end, more satisfying.
In addition to her typical landscape format, she also does tiny drawings. And if those long pieces are short stories, narratives of the Texas landscape that have to be “read” complete with rhythm and balance and suspense, the 2 inch by 3 inch works are haiku. They elevate the mundane, the over-looked. The smaller format allows her to concentrate on the moment. They allow the viewer to see something completely familiar in a brand new way. She refers to them as “sliders” because they are just the right size and they go down easy.