Precipice at the Amarillo Museum of Art

October 16 – December 31, 2020

Precipice is the title given to a series of concurrent exhibitions by three artists: David Maisel, Jess Benjamin, and Mark Messersmith. Each artist is uniquely concerned with the interaction between humans, nature and the impact that this interaction has on the environment.

The photographer, David Maisel, explores the potentially destructive ways in which the industrial use of the landscape sustains our way of life. Jess Benjamin specifically addresses water use and the Ogallala Aquifer in her sculptural ceramic work. Mark Messersmith explores the tenuous relationship between humankind’s built environment and its impact on wildlife through his exquisitely detailed paintings.

Amarillo is the economic center of the Texas Panhandle and there are many ways that the work of these three artists relate to the region. The panhandle region is a largely rural area that is heavily dependent upon agriculture for its success. The principle reason the Texas Panhandle is able to support civilization is through the use of human-centric technologies and natural resources. The Ogallala Aquifer is the driving force behind the region’s agricultural economy, which in turn supports nearly 30% of irrigated crop production in the United States. The second largest canyon in the United States, Palo Duro Canyon, is found in the Texas Panhandle and is a diverse, protected natural environment that is visited by several hundred thousand people annually. Additionally, the United States primary nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility, Pantex, is located near Amarillo and its impact on the landscape is incontrovertible. Each artist’s unique interpretation encourages inquiry and reflection about the fraught relationship between humanity and the environment in the area.