In the 1970s, Corse diverged from the canvas with her “Black Earth Series.” At the Whitney, Untitled (Black Earth Series) (1978) comprises two shiny black ceramic slabs (molded to evoke the ground’s natural topography), which, one stacked atop the other, reach a height of 96 inches. To fire such big pieces, Corse had to build her own kiln, again deploying technical and scientific skills to achieve her desired aesthetic results.
“I found myself needing to ground [myself], be aware of the body, touch the earth,” she said at the preview. “No artist’s lines, getting rid of the ego.” The Dia exhibition also features a “Black Earth” work from 1978, comprising 16 panels. Corse offered a new form of “painting” decoupled from a traditional hanging canvas. Her ceramic squares rest on the gallery floor, bringing the art form literally down to earth.
Corse eventually returned to her white light paintings. Instead of subtle grid compositions, she began to line her canvases with thick vertical bands in 1996. These stripes are often sandwiched between matte, monochromatic sections which, according to Corse, offer “a sense of reality.”
The Whitney is showing a massive example of this later, “White Arch Inner Band” series, dated 2003, at the entryway to its show. Conaty hopes it brings the exhibition full circle, recalling the thin inner bands that bisect the artist’s early shaped canvases, as well.
Since she graduated from art school, Corse has never had to take a second job to support her practice. She raised two sons and devoted herself to her materials. “I’m not a landscape painter, it’s an internal vision,” she tells Artsy. In California, she’s gotten the space and freedom she needed to find her own influence. Corse says her major interests lie in “where we are as human beings, what we are, where we are. And I think art can be a good expression of that.” Humans and daylight may be transient, but art, at least, persists.