Anthropocene Art


Katie Holten- Nothing from nothing CH 31

Katie Holten created an exhibit for the New Orleans Museum of art in 2012 titled Drawn to the Edge. The title encapsulated the works depiction of the edge between man- made vs. nature, between deep time and the rapid changes of the last century. As Holten began to research the area, she realized that the area was relatively young, sediment created the alluvial plains less than 5000 years ago.

Although young, the area has not eluded the anthropocentric destruction wreaked on older land. The man made channels cut through the bayous and swamplands are described by Holten as a lattice.



The gas and oil production taking place in the area have forever changed the landscape. Evidence of man’s domination over nature can been seen throughout the city. Swamplands covered by cement, the rivers natural flow being sequestered by levees, and hidden waterways are all a testament to the bulldozing agenda of man.

Holten’s works are created on canvas from 10-12’tall x 16-32’ long capturing the grandeur of destruction and nature simultaneously. She creates her art in media such as oil and sediment from the Mississippi to capture the gravity and organic quality of its subjects. One picture, titled Constellations, is a map of gas and oil wells in Louisiana. She used chalk from the Cretaceous era which she gathered from the former ocean floor of the Inland Sea in Kansas. This choice marries the destruction of nature and the scale of deep time.



Holten’s works are an important representation of the Anthropocene and the interplay between man and nature. The vividly depict the line that man has drawn between itself and the rest of the natural world. Her choice of media have a built in meta dialogue about deep time and its relation to our explosive acceleration of destruction.