Image of artwork titled "Erratic 5" by Jessica Labatte

Jessica Labatte, Erratic 5, 2021
Archival pigment print mounted to dibond
43 × 28 inches

Geological “erratics” are rocks or boulders that differ from the surrounding rocks of a landscape. Once considered to be a geological paradox, or believed, by some, to be evidence of a Biblical flood, we now have evidence that erratics are rocks that travel great distances propelled by ice age glacial movements. “Erratic” also describes one’s behavior as unpredictable or wandering. Much like creative leaps of the artistic mind can connect seemingly unrelated ideas, erratics present us with objects of wonder that allow us to contemplate sublime forces of nature.

In the 1920’s Labatte’s ancestors established an ice and ice cream business in Ogden, Utah. Reflecting on how her ancestor’s harnessing of the harsh natural elements of winter may have contributed to her love of winter, Labatte trades in the winter sports of her youth for an artistic studio in the winter landscape. Together with her child, she filled milk jugs, bowls, and other containers with water and objects collected from around the house. They would then leave the potions in the landscape overnight to freeze. Bringing the ice sculptures into the studio, transforms them into erratics made of ice. Unlike a boulder, when the ice erratics are transported from their winter landscape, they will perish.

In the studio Labatte illuminates The Erratics with colored light creating glowing crystalline monuments. Similar to a glacier, the ice becomes transparent because of melting, allowing more light to permeate cracks, fissures, and crevasses revealing the stress points in the ice and everyday objects suspended in place. Areas of the erratic that are more solidly frozen are more opaque, preventing a glimpse into the interior. The quality of reversible change possible with water, ice and snow symbolize change.

Similar to how fractures within a glacier can cause icebergs and erratics to be transported across great distances, fractures within a family can lead to one leaving their homeland, breaking off and charting their own path. Labatte identifies with erratics.



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