Strata, a multi-sensory installation by Canadian artist Shannon Collis, immerses visitors in an environment of deep sonic resonance and dynamic moving images that travel above and through Alberta’s Boreal Forest, the Athabasca River, and Fort McMurray to underscore the scale of the Fort Hills Suncor Oil Sands and Syncrude Oil Plant, the third-largest known crude bitumen reservoir on the planet. Presented as multi-screen sculptural projection with surround sound, Strata explores complex intersections of the social, the economic, and the environmental through contrasts between natural landscape and human industry, while highlighting nature’s persistence in the face of industrial exploitation.

A former resident of Fort McMurray, Collis conceives Strata as a response to industrial interventions in the ecologically diverse area, and how they continue “to shape the surrounding environment and local community that have been so radically altered…” Taking a multilayered approach, reflective of the geological and sociological allusions of its title, Strata reveals “the human imprint on the region and the range of its social, economic, and environmental implications” through its immersive visual and sonic collage. Strata’s visceral address invites visitors to contemplate and process these issues at a time of unprecedented environmental urgency. Increasingly inured to statistics and images of our environmental impact, Strata offers an opportunity to feel and to witness this momentum, from a place of geographic remove.

The Berman Museum of Art, in conjunction with the Ursinus College Museum Studies Curatorial Seminar, is pleased to host the debut of Strata. Strata is co-curated by Museum Studies students Kristen Cooney, Justin Mitchell, and Katie Sanfield and advisors Meghan Tierney, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Art History, and Deborah Barkun, Ph.D., Creative Director, Berman Museum of Art.

For more of Collis’s recent work, please consult her website: https://www.shannoncollis.ca.

This project is supported by a 2019 Rubys Artist Grant, which is a program of the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. https://www.rwdfoundation.org