On the Wall: Drawing the “Site”


The LSU College of Art & Design Dean’s Office sponsors rotating displays of student and faculty work on the LSU Design Building’s Atrium wall. On the wall now through January 9, 2015, is work by Master of Landscape Architecture students Sheryl Fishel and Sharon Ling. The work was completed in Associate Professor Cathy Marshall’s advanced drawing seminar, LA 4505.

The course, titled “Drawing the ‘Site’,” focused on the profound engagement of site and the creation of meaning through drawing as a generative force for understanding the tangible and intangible landscape, transcending the physical/digital drawing divide. Focusing on both speculative and objective representation and the merging of freehand and digital tools specific to the study of landscapes, the drawings analyze particular environmental topics that make the landscape unique. For example, ground plane (topography and the continuing surface of landscape), horizon (sky), liminal edges (able to be occupied and ecological), light quality, transparency, and movement.

The students’ exploration took the form of interdependent investigations, analytical and theoretical examination of existing methodologies, and application and practice. Sheryl Fishel and Sharon Ling generated a series of drawings about a vernacular ethnographic landscape that they visited weekly and studied over the semester.

Cinclare Plantation Sugar Mill

Sharon Ling visited the Cinclare Plantation Sugar Mill Historic District, located slightly north of the small community of Brusly on the west bank of the Mississippi River in rural West Baton Rouge Parish.

Emphera, Hand Drawing and Photoshop, 2014

lsu mla student work

Emphera, Hand Drawing and Photoshop, 2014, by Sharon Ling

Emphera focuses on the motility and sensory data of wind. The data is collected by the local weather station, and the drawing represents the average for three different days in a week, showing how the wind changes through places and time in one day. The white wind lines collaborate with short yellow lines in the circle, showing the direction of the wind at specific spots. The size of the circle shows the relationship of different wind speeds—the bigger, the stronger. The color of the circle reflects the speed of the wind in one day—the darker, the stronger. In addition, on the top of the drawing (which indicates North), the white illuminated line represents sunrise from the east and sunset to the west. The blue lines are the timeline. The drawing shows the exact parameter of the wind speed.

Photography Montage, 2014

lsu mla student work

Photography Montage, 2014, Image 1, by Sharon Ling

The first image in the photo montage shows the relationship between an abandoned steel structure and weeds. From left to right is the view from outside to inside the structure. “I learned from Stan Brakhage’s work to create episodic timing, broken gaps in non-linear movement, focusing on details of texture, surrounding plants and then pulling back to create emptiness in this work,” said Ling.

lsu mla student work

Photography Montage, 2014, Image 2, by Sharon Ling

The second image focuses on the industrial complex and shows views of the complex from a distance and as you move closer. “I changed the original size of the existing elements, like the grass, poles, and chimney stack, to make it pop out,” said Ling. “This breaks gaps in non-linear movement, differentiates the perspectives, and emphasizes the details of the site.”

lsu mla student work

Photography Montage, 2014, Image 3, by Sharon Ling

The third image in the photo montage shows the filed in seasonal change. Photos were taken from a moving car to create the feeling of motion and to focus on the horizontal line to connect all the pictures in different times and places.

Sweet Olive Cemetery 

MLA student Sheryl Fishel’s project catalogs and explores Sweet Olive Cemetery in Baton Rouge. The cemetery, founded in 1850, was the first African American cemetery in the city. The sight suffers from a lack of regular maintenance but is cleaned up seasonally by groups of volunteers. Despite its appearance, Sweet Olive remains a spiritual, historic, and integral part of the surrounding community. Fishel’s investigation maps the maneuvers a visitor encounters while navigating the space. Variation in elevation determines the stability of the ground plane at a given time. The combination of the weight of the tombs, soil structure, and hydrology cause the site to be in a constant state of flux. Crypts mark the past movements caused by instability of the landscape.

Rope, Walk, Breathe, Mixed Media, 2014

lsu mla student work

Rope, Walk, Breathe, Mixed Media, 2014, by Sheryl Fishel

Path Lined with Rope

Pathways were traced by laying a 400-foot nylon rope through the site. The same path was mapped in close proximity to the first to analyze the changes in breath and rate of a heartbeat.

Teal Watercolors

Breathing patterns while moving through the site are represented with teal watercolor paintings. Each painting discusses the inhalation and exhalation of moving through the space. The darker concentrations explore spaces of deep inhalation and correspond with stepping up onto the tombs. The lighter, scratched teal segments show the stable breathing patterns for mapped segments.

Maroon Line Work

The maroon line work examines the directionality of movement through the site determined by the current layout and past shifting of the tombs. Some areas require visitors to walk in orthogonal paths while other areas are more serpentine.

Site Photograph

The negative aerial photograph lays out the current tomb locations as rectangular gray solids or outlines.

Relaxing with the Dead, Time Lapse Photography, 2014

Relaxing with the Dead, Time Lapse Photography, 2014, by Sheryl Fishel

Relaxing with the Dead, Time Lapse Photography, 2014, by Sheryl Fishel