May 14, 2020

IN RESPONSE: This Is When The Ice Sheet Ended


IN RESPONSE to This Is When The Ice Sheet Ended

by Marc Lefkowitz

The gallery-sized diorama of a glacier at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History greets visitors with a thought, “11,000 years ago, Cleveland was covered in a mile-high wall of ice.” When I met Brooklyn, New York artist Katarina Jerinic at the museum, we discussed glaciers, Ice Ages and the Anthropocene as interconnected topics. Jerinic’s exhibit “This Is When The Ice Sheet Ended” now on view at Spaces is a search for meaning in a post-industrial, post-COVID-19, post-climate changed Land.

The exhibit opens with a map of the last Ice Age, showing the extent of the mile-high glacier covering Cleveland and its suburbs stretching north into Canada.

I sensed from Jerinic that her plan — to invite locals to accompany her on walking tours of the Near West Side, covering the mile diameter surrounding Spaces — was to reveal how we live among relics of the Ice Age. She found glacial erratics repurposed as lawn ornaments and stone buildings like the West Side Market. She imagines monuments of her own, perhaps as reminders of quarries where deep layers of glacial till that forms the local bedrock was pulled to the surface in the early Cleveland. They are unavoidable reminders of walking in the footsteps of our ancestors.

I shared with Katarina during her visit a comment that David Beach, my predecessor at GreenCityBlueLake, used to compare the glaciers to industry — both act like a giant scraper of what existed on the land before their time. Like bare rock, the post-industrial landscape of Cleveland is scarred. It also shows the resilience of nature.

We shared an interest in signals of the Anthropocene, the era when human influence on nature became so dominant as to leave a permanent geological record. Jerinic’s Rock Records are a nod to the presence of the deep history, the layers of Industrial Era and Ice Age brought together. They are an unseen hand guiding our sense of place. It made me appreciate how much stone endures, but also, it’s time of transience.

Glaciers are powerful, not just metaphorically. Our enjoyment of river valleys in the Flats, the bluffs of Ohio City or the Rocky River Reservation are owed to the glaciers carving into soft shale, rivulets becoming rivers and melting pools into inland oceans of the Great Lakes.

We are creatures of a stone Land, where ancient water hollows out contours. Did you know that most of the water in Lake Erie is the original glacial melt that keeps being recycled? Jerinic’s work reminds me of the intimacy we have with the land and ancient, forgiving resources like the lake. We are water beings, made up of 70% water, which we take and “recycle” back to the lake. We are revealed in stone and water. She who walks the Land sees the materials, rearranged into highways abutting and separating a neighborhood from the water, and the monuments of enduring strength from which to take and build better next time.

Related Artist

Katarina Jerinic

Katarina Jerinic responds to and intervenes in built landscapes with photographs, maps and ephemeral installations while considering past and present phenomena of particular places. Recent solo exhibitions and projects include Baxter St at Camera Club of New York (2018); Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art at University of Nevada Las Vegas... go to artist page

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