For the past fifteen years, my work as an artist has been driven largely by the conviction that borders are as much historical processes as they are physical facts — constructions that result from conscious human determination. A border is a decision, one with moral and mortal consequences; an act that reaches from the global arena of politics and economic power down to the intimate level of individual human lives.
At the end of the Cold War, the number of walled or fenced borders between nations/states dropped from an all-time high of eighteen to a low of twelve, and it seemed possible to imagine that the world would soon be borderless, moving ever closer to a global society. The reality, however, is that since the fall of the Berlin Wall more than forty countries have built new fences separating them from more than sixty of their neighbors; more than thirty of these were built in the last fifteen years (following 9/11), and fifteen of them were built in last year alone.
In 2000–01 I was awarded Fulbright Fellowship to Israel that forever changed my intellectual life and creative direction. I arrived in Israel on the heels of the outbreak of the Second Intifada, which made for an experience that was both rich and chaotic, resulting in long-term friendships and professional connections that continue to inform both my creative work and my worldview.
Subsequent to my Fulbright fellowship I’ve made two extended return visits to Israel. In late 2008, during a previous sabbatical, I began a body of work titled Surface Tension: three landscapes of division, consisting of photographs taken in Israel–Palestine, alongside work I I have been doing on the U.S.–Mexico borderlands, and in Berlin.
In an essay that Katherine Ware (Curator of Photographs for the New Mexico Museum of Art) wrote in 2014 she frames the work with these words: “In each of the three places ... photographed (North America, the Middle East, Europe), tensions escalated to the point at which an armed physical barrier was erected and enforced for decades. Warpinski’s sharp color photographs ground these images in our contemporary moment, demonstrating that this destruction of lives, cultures, and ecosystems implicates us all.”
From her home base in Eugene, Oregon, artist/photographer Terri Warpinski travels the world in her creative practice focusing on the relationship between personal, cultural, and natural histories as revealed through the landscape.
A Professor of Art at the University of Oregon since 1984, Terri was distinguished as a Fulbright Scholar in Israel in 2000– 2001, and was a visiting professor at New Mexico State University in 2009. In 2014 she was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Oregon Art Commission, and in 2013 and 2016 Career Opportunity Grants through the Ford Family Foundation and Oregon Arts Commission.
Her work has been shown internationally in more than a hundred exhibitions, at such venues as the Pingyao International Festival of Photography in China; the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem; Houston International Fotofest; the Center for Photography in Woodstock, New York; the University of the Arts in Philadelphia; and Camerawork in San Francisco. She has been awarded artist residencies at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, Playa in Oregon, Scuola Internazionale di Graphica in Venice, Annex:Art in Berlin, and Caldera in Oregon. Her border based landscape work was featured in the Spring 2014 issue of the Society for Photographic Education’s journal Exposure with an essay “Insecure Borders: Terri’s Warpinski’s Surface Tension” written by Katherine Ware, Curator, New Mexico Museum of Art, and will be featured in the Australian landscape architecture Journal KERB in issue 24 (November 2016) which is focusing on notions of ‘territory’. A solo exhibition of Surface Tension has been touring since the 2014 with venues in Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Further work can be viewed on her website: www.terriwarpinski.com on Facebook @ Terri Warpinski Studio News, and on Instagram @terriwarpinski