In the Shallows

Amy Landesberg

“I don’t know what to say.

I found myself over my head in icy water walking in a forest of kelp. Though it can get much taller, in that cove the kelp was about my height, and there we were, the kelp, uncountable other forms of life, and me, in the shallows of the sea. The kelp forest was vast; no comprehensible single plant, no perceivable limit to the millions of them, or to the vast one of them.

The band of earth and air we occupy is shallow. Here is where we see all the beauty and do all the damage, where the roots are tangled, and the branches torn. I’ve sought to work here consciously – well, where else? – to probe this realm and study it through paper, ink, clay, and the rest.”

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Images by Mike Jensen


Amy Landesberg is an Atlanta based artist and architect and her work overlaps those boundaries in content, complexity and scope. As an architect she has participated in the design of a wide array of projects, many of which focused on environmental sustainability, including galleries, civic and educational buildings, rapid rail, historic preservation, theater environments, and residences. Architecture has enabled the extremes of scale that have characterized her art: The overtly public, architectural scale of, for example, Autoplast, at the San Diego Airport Rental Car Center that explores our disposition to cars. Two giant walls host installations of hundreds of taillights and thousands of side view mirrors mimicking swarm behaviors such as those of insects, or millions of people in cars. The other extreme includes the intimate scale of, for example, Sprouts, the piece of linoleum flooring sprouting false eyelashes from the project about discarded objects in decay, Things Grow Hair.

Environmental stresses fuel the content of her current work which explores the imagery of nature and natural forces. The explosions of cellular growth taking place beneath our feet, topographic changes through erosion, the beauties and horrors of fungal growth and natural decay, the geometry of light passing through water, human forces as our forests deplete… These images, sourced from photography, gps data or scientific illustration, are then rendered in some of the most basic analog techniques, hand formed clay and ink on paper.

Landesberg studied ceramics at Georgia State University and architecture at Yale. She has received awards and grants in both art and architecture from the Southern Arts Federation, the Architectural League of New York, the Southern Atlantic Region of the AIA, the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, and the Americans for the Arts Public Art Program. She has taught extensively at Schools of Design including Tulane, Ohio State, Princeton, Columbia, Georgia State and Georgia Tech.