Elizabeth Holtry's recent work explores the beauty and underlying fragility of the Bonneville Salt Flats in remote Northwestern Utah. The remnant of an ancient saline lake and one of the flattest places on earth, this barren and bleached landscape is best known for hosting land-speed races and for providing an otherworldly backdrop for automobile advertisements.
The flats are designated as an area of critical environmental concern.
A combination of climate change, mining, and motor racing are imperiling the stability of the salt flats. Natural processes also continually transform the landscape. Rain covers the blinding white flats in a reflective pool of shallow water, causing the ground and sky to visually merge. Evaporation reveals the glittery salt crust. Erosion carves new textures and alters the terrain.
Holtry's paintings focus on the landscape’s ethereal visual effects. Some paintings juxtapose patterns in the crust with reflections of the sky in standing water. Other pieces depict cracks in the parched earth, halite formations, or unsightly tire tracks. To emphasize the mystery of the place, she excludes the sky and mountains. Her aim is to foster environmental awareness and express her fascination with a landscape that is harsh, beautiful, and vulnerable.