The land seems to go on forever, a sea of endless white with no beginning or end. Two billowing cloths frame the scene, like curtains opening to an empty stage. Against the otherworldly beauty of the Bonneville Salt Flats, a brilliant blue sky feels both familiar and tethered to an unspoiled slice of the natural world, completely removed from the everyday.
Artist Rebecca Reeve’s wistful, haunting photographs depict some of Utah’s most starkly beautiful landscapes in surprising new contexts. Her series “Marjory’s World,” named after the writer and conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, began in Everglades National Park before moving West. “I wanted to work in a topography that was quite different, an environment that was as close as possible to the notion I had in my mind of a heavenly place, somewhere white and expansive and ethereal,” she says.
The photos’ unique framing draws on a 17th century Dutch tradition in which family members mourning a deceased loved one would cover mirrors and artwork in their home with cloth. “It was believed this would make it easier for the soul to leave the body and subdue any temptations for it to stay in this world on its final journey,” she explains.
The curtains, which Reeve bought at Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, represent a literal social fabric connecting humans with the land from which they come. The theme resonates in a time when human connection feels more tenuous than ever. “Making my work is a soulful endeavor. The curtains serve as portals into the landscape, yes, but also into ourselves,” Reeve says. “I hope that they inspire, especially now with the pandemic, some peace and some grounding.”