Inside the Studio

Carla on "Wonder Valley Homesteads"

We join Carla Weeks in her Philadelphia studio to learn about her series of paintings Wonder Valley Homesteads, based on architecture tracing back to the Small Tract Act of 1938 in the Mojave Desert.

Photos by Chris Setty

Ecc9d718 ffc2 45ce a47e 8b7d416758e7
89fef4e8 ecbd 4fc4 a405 508dd69e4fca
D3da5791 b383 46cf 8cbe 336390c3e1f3

“I passed through Wonder Valley in January of this year on a trip to the Mojave Desert with one of my closest friends. I had a vague knowledge of the old homestead structures, and was curious about their history and current state of abandonment. Since most of my research into the history of Wonder Valley came after I visited, my experience of the sprawling structures was visceral, focused on form, and unaware of context. In the moment, I could only wonder about the indigenous populations that must have come before, and the complex framework imposed by the US government through which to sell off the land.”

— Carla Weeks

C9b2a991 756b 4034 a858 4152bd2820ce
2e8b305f 0b20 4c39 8d85 bdcc51e8c965
F78eea3b e238 4639 81cb 7eb5633543e8
Aa44fd03 0f81 477a acd5 1818466cd261

“The sight of the empty 300 sq ft homes sitting within the vast desert landscape was striking, almost shocking. Outside of its own complicated history, this place became a pseudo-context for some recent, personal thought on the cultural constructs surrounding homeownership, and its connection to our identity. In this body of work, I document my experience of the homestead structures using shape and color to describe interlocking planes of landscape and architecture. Painting on sized linen, I apply transparent and opaque layers of oil color – pushing and pulling the planes of color, manipulating perspective.”

— Carla Weeks

71a220ad 7c87 4bd4 a5e1 c16afc21a108
565ca9e9 d683 49c7 a148 6babd6c012d0
615f3430 8fcc 4bf5 ae03 c5b6ab7b113f
6f198804 2f79 4757 bbae 4cbcf09d8b29

“This more figurative series is a departure from my more abstract and repetitious pattern-based work. The focus on individual structures felt like an appropriate response to my experience of them: isolated within the landscape. Each composition employs three simple shapes to describe an architectural structure and its relationship to the landscape it sits in.”

— Carla Weeks

411d56c9 39d6 42b4 bdee 2c41e306021e
5940c824 24d5 40a0 9cd6 a484efd6e317
76555810 e34e 4a2c a76d 1fdeb1e24bb4
30d5471e 5c93 454f bd74 37d6f3efc757

“I enjoy the challenge of reducing these structures and landscapes to their most minimal form while retaining an honest imprint of my personal experience.”

— Carla Weeks

75da875d d6b6 48bf af99 259f4ae3620d

More From Carla Weeks

More from Inside the Studio

Tour Artist Studios
Bdbd55d9 9634 4127 9eaa 4d6a15eb51c7
Inside the Studio Visit with Laura Naples

Join us on a tour of Laura Naples' expansive Ohio studio where she created her newest suite of paintings for a special collaboration with Design Within Reach.

More from the Journal

Browse Posts
2c799f93 021a 4665 9f9c 626519e5d5d0
Meet Sarah Ingraham

Sarah Ingraham looks to ceramics and textiles from all over the world as inspiration in her work, which combines ancient motifs with a fresh palette.