January 30 - April 24, 2021
Reid Gallery 


Leora Gesser


1. the branch of geology concerned with the order and relative position of strata and their relationship to the geological time scale.

The term “stratigraphy” is primarily used by geologists and focuses on the study of rock layers to investigate what occurred historically in an area. In addition, the term is used by archaeologists to identify the contents of strata in order to create a picture of the human culture that lived during a particular time. It is in the intersection of these two meanings that Leora Gesser began the visual investigation for this body of work.

Using these scientific concepts to drive a personal discovery of the relationship between strata, time, boundaries, place, and culture, Stratigraphy examines what has come before us; celebrating the beauty of the earth’s layers on which we both metaphorically and physically stand. This exhibition features paintings and prints of landscapes that are curious and seemingly unknown – on closer examination there are signs, symbols, and layers that become more recognizable.

Fossils, artifacts, and layers of strata representing events such as cooling, heating, flood, compression, drought, and human experience are captured by brushstrokes and reinterpreted in prints. The work is approached more as an emotive history rather than a series of landscape paintings. Elements of nature found above and under the ground loosely inform this work; artistic liberties draw us all closer to the fragility of our way of life.

The future, all our future, is yet to be decided. Stratigraphy is a celebration of the richness and diversity that surrounds us in the natural world. Can it be that the layers of the earth as well as the layers of humanity stay forever etched in the ground around us and in our unconscious minds? Can it be that this is what draws us to a place and unknowingly creates a thread of connection that we do not acknowledge but just feel?

While the entry point is recognizable traces found in nature, the viewer does not have the same traditional spatial orientation and recognizable boundaries – this playful depth perception means that realistic scale is of no consequence. Depicting the harmony and chaos in the textures, shapes, and colours found in a given space as well as the mosaic of the strata, this work represents the complexity and fragility of our planet, reminding us all of what is at stake.