Sarah Sze, Split Stone (Northwest), 2019



Sarah Sze, 2019.
Granite and resin, 39” h x 45” w x 17” d; 47” h x 46” w x 20” d

Photo credit: Rod del Pozo

The Washington State Arts Commission in partnership with Western Washington University. State Art Collection WSAC2016.024.00A-B


As with all Sarah’s work, Split Stone (Northwest) emerges from the site and is intimately related to its location. Found along one of the campus’s central pathways, the pair of stones act like a cairn along a trail, drawing viewers to it from the many surrounding pathways. The piece creates a choreography of anticipation and surprise, as well as an intimate moment for pause and contemplation.

The pair of sculptures are fabricated from a single boulder, split in two. One half stands silhouetted against the landscape and the other sits partially submerged, as if it had always occupied that location. In the interior of both sculptures, viewers discover a photographic image constructed from fragments of color, like a split open geode revealing a world inside. The image, created by incising the cut surface of the stone with of a dot-matrix pattern mosaic, captures a scene of the sky at sunset. The same image is mirrored on the other half of the boulder, as if the stone in its core contained a fixed image of the sky set in place through the forces of gravity and pressure.

Split Stone (Northwest) explores the idea of landscape and image in many forms: images of landscapes; sculptures as landscapes in themselves; and the altered landscape of the Western Washington Campus. The project plays with landscape and sculpture, as well as painting, printmaking and the production of images. It references both the speed and ubiquity of contemporary image capture and ancient forms of mark making, bringing the painstaking process of stone engraving and a sense of physical gravity, weight, and authorship into our contemporary context, where anonymous and fleeting digital images have become a kind of debris that constantly swirls around us.

By recording images in pixels and then fixing them in stone and pigment, Sze explores the fragility of time passing and our desire for weight and permanence in the face of both overwhelming natural forces and the ubiquitous images that surround us daily.