“Two Lakes” – Austin Pratt

“Two Lakes” – Austin Pratt

In conjunction with our solidarity window display for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe currently on view at The Holland Gallery Window, local artist and longtime Holland friend, Austin Pratt reflects on his painting, Two Lakes, and the influences that sparked this large-scale painting. The painting has been on view in Holland’s show space since the summer of 2018, serving as a backdrop for countless shows, poetry nights, and events.

Austin Pratt, Two Lakes 2017

I made this large-scale painting “Two Lakes” in the summer of 2017 in anticipation of my exhibition Laced, at the Sheppard Contemporary at the University of Nevada. It features an iconic historic photograph, “Tufa Domes, Pyramid Lake, Nevada” taken by Timothy O’ Sullivan in 1867 at the beginning of the United States Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel where Sullivan was the official photographer. I manipulated this photograph of the “pyramid” and tufa rocks; doubling, inverting, and shifting, so that two images appear above and below, reflecting each other like cloud and rock formations. I was thinking about the two perspectives of the United States government and of the Numu people and Northern Paiute tribes whose land Pyramid Lake belongs. I meant to trouble the image a bit, painting with bleach on black denim, showing a kind of violence against this sacred place, and a similar violence against a historic photo. Perhaps the reflective turquoise wash of the lake water cools it all down a bit. 

At Sheppard Contemporary, I was asked to select other from the UNR permanent collection of art to be exhibited alongside this painting, and I was honored to select and show alongside significant Nevada artists, including the elaborate woven baskets of Paiute-Shoshone sisters Sandra Eagle and Rebecca Eagle Lambert, and contemporary painter and Northern Paiute Melissa Melero-Moose, among others.

Since 2018, “Two Lakes” has lived as the backdrop on the stage at The Holland Project, behind hundreds of live bands, poetry readings, and community events. I think of it as a reminder to Holland’s local and international visitors of the place we are, both geographically and culturally, and as a visual acknowledgment and celebration of the land we’re on in Northern Nevada, stolen from the Northern Paiute, Washoe, and Western Shoshone peoples. 

Installation view of Austin Pratt’s Two Lakes, Sheppard Contemporary

I have always loved Pyramid Lake and the tribe and hope that gestures in art, conversation, and financial donation, however large or small, can make some positive impact to our friends’ and neighbors who have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. 
-Austin Pratt

Austin Pratt was born in Reno, Nevada, and has since returned where he works and teaches. He received an MFA in Painting+Drawing at The University of Tennessee, and a BFA in Painting & Drawing from The University of Nevada. Pratt is the recent recipient of the Nevada Arts Council Fellowship and was a recipient of the Dorothy Dille and Orin B. Graff Scholarship, a Chancellor’s Fellowship, and the Terry Burnett Memorial Scholarship at the University of Tennessee. Solo exhibitions include Channel to Channel (Nashville), Gallery 1010 (Knoxville), and Sheppard Contemporary (Reno). Group exhibitions include Unix Gallery (NYC), Coagula Curatorial (LA), and Sahara West (Las Vegas). Pratt currently teaches Drawing at the University of Nevada, Reno.