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Michelle Stuart

In 1972 Michelle Stuart began work on a group of large paper scrolls that incorporate frottage (a rubbing technique) with graphite to capture the uneven and unique topography of the earth’s surface. The largest example from this group of works, Sayreville Strata Quartet (1976) presents the colors and textures of an abandoned brick quarry in Sayreville, New Jersey, on four panels of paper. Substituting graphite for samples from four layers of the quarry’s red soil, Stuart pressed the earth directly onto sheets of paper laid across the site to make this work. Her monochrome rubbings of the 1970s simultaneously challenged the hard-edged aesthetic of Minimalist painting and its industrial materials, as well as the relationship between drawing and the artist’s hand. Moreover, breaking with the monumental scale of early Land art, these rubbings explore a physical connection to site and the product of memory.

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