Struble’s large-scale canvases open up a zone of investigation into the uncanny beauty of postindustrial contaminated sites through the lens of historical landscape painting. Drawing on the tradition of the idealized, romantic landscape of the nineteenth-century Hudson River School, Struble reclaims the landscape as a zone of urgency. Superfund is the name designated by the Environmental Protection Agency for the nation’s worst toxic waste sites.
Struble’s fascination with hazardous waste zones started when she was in high school in Baltimore, where her father worked as an engineer in the industrial harbor. She remembers being intrigued by these desolate lots of land with their mysterious beauty and forbidden boundaries. She has continued to visit these remnants of old industry: plating plants, wood treatment facilities, and the debris of processed materials. “Looking at Baltimore as a relic of a once booming American industry has been a compelling reference point for my work,” states Struble.
In Kane and Lombard golf, an abstracted mini golf course stands afloat a hazardous site creating the illusion of normalcy in a contaminated area. The non-conventional perspective as well as the desolation of a normally bucolic space confers a feeling of alienation. Kane and Lombard tennis depicts an eerie tennis court seen trough a partially standing metal fence. The painting evokes an uneasy tranquility and quiet discomfort. Chemical Metals Industries mural portrays a building sitting atop what appears to be a weed field on a high horizon line. The building’s facade is covered by a brightly colored mural painting set against an apocalyptic sky, recalling Ed Rucha’s painted horizons.
Trained as a painter, Struble usually begins by exploring her subjects, armed with a camera and a keen eye for details. This is not to suggest that her paintings are straightforward documents of these wastelands. Struble’s paintings activate a space of multisensorial perception. Layers of patterned surfaces intersect with geometric shapes and erased areas of paint. Aggressive colors jump out from nuanced monochrome fields. The eye is never at rest. Like the “Stalker” character in Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film of the same title, Struble leads us through her paintings into uncharted territories.