Between Lossand Renewal

1000 Words – Elizabeth Addison

In the winter of 2010, artist Elizabeth Addison had a “wondrous and stunning” dream where she met an impact crater that spoke to her, inviting her to come closer, and promising her it would be waiting for her. The dream launched Addison — who is “simultaneously skeptical and compelled to investigate instances of the extraordinary” — into what she calls an “artistic investigation” of the transitional environment where destruction and creation, absence and presence overlap.

The Crater Project — a series of monoprints, paintings, sculptures, and multimedia works that examine both her life-changing dream crater and her journey a few years later to meet its actual counterpart, the Barringer Meteorite Crater in the Arizona desert — is a product of that investigation. The liminal environments depicted in the series are visual manifestations of the artist’s own reflection on our relationship with nature and “the conflict between beliefs and data-driven conclusions.”

Addison had always been fascinated by cataclysmic natural events, events that can cause massive destruction but at the same time hold within them the germ of rebirth. So it was but natural that following the dream she read all she could find about impact craters, which are formed by the hypervelocity impact of a meteorite or other celestial object crashing onto a planet’s (or moon’s) surface.

For Addison, impact craters represent “proof of the unseen,” of forces that have shaped our world in profound ways — from causing mass extinctions to climate change to making room for new life. She points to how scientists have deemed these craters “cradles for life” where water mixed with organic material from interstellar rocks and heat created just the right conditions for life on Earth as we know it. We humans too, are ultimately “creations of impact,” she observes.

The Crater Project series explores an impact crater’s many “metaphorical possibilities,” including destruction and creation, wounding and healing, loss and renewal. Over and over again, Addison modifies the image of the Barringer Crater, initially sourced from the Planetary and Space Science Centre University, New Brunswick, and later from photographs she took of the crater herself. She inserts it into dramatic, dreamlike landscapes, washes it with color, layers it with words, inserts her own figure as a shadow “conveying change and movement,” and even expands the imagery into diptychs and triptychs.

“I concerned myself with showing the science without telling it literally in order to maintain its magic,” she writes about the project.

Indeed, there is magic in this body of work — the seemingly simple creations offer up layers of meaning upon deeper, and repeated, contemplation.

See more of Elizabeth Addison’s work at

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