Alexandra Fuller

Lake Effect
January 31, 2024
Alexandra Fuller

As a contribution to the crucial Great Salt Lake conversation, Modern West has showcased Lake Effect, a six-person exhibition with artworks depicting the current state of our Great Salt Lake’s decline along with the detrimental aftermath that may occur if nothing is done to protect the place many of us call home.


Alexandra Fuller is a photographer, filmmaker and writer working in Utah. Her work primarily takes the form of large-scale conceptual landscapes and subjective documentary photographs. Her new photography series titled Dissolution includes handmade salt prints contemplating the Great Salt Lake at the edge of its current era. 



Your work has continually involved the landscape and the way humans interact with it. Your recent series titled Dissolution includes prints soaked in a solution containing salt crystals from Great Salt Lake itself. What drew you to the subject matter and what inspired this process in your work?

I have always been drawn to landscapes whose starkness and scale underscore my own insignificance. That recognition can be terrifying, but also freeing. I once had an Uber driver who described these kinds of landscapes as “problem shrinkers”, in that they really put your own tiny human life into a manageable context.  Like many other artists—those who grew up near The Great Salt Lake, as I did, and those who simply admired its weird beauty while flying over it—the lake has become an increasingly insistent muse. I wanted the images in the Dissolution series to communicate the sovereign nature of the lake, a living ecosystem which commands and may ultimately demand our respect.

I have featured the lake as subject matter in several art projects over the years, each quite distinctive from the others. In some projects, I’ve brought objects to the lake as temporary installations. For the Dissolution series, I wanted to bring something from the lake—salt crystals—to use as the foundation of handmade photographs. The relationship between the subject matter and the process is interesting to me. I’m also curious about the interplay between digital and analog technology. This past year has shown us that AI engines can make art that captures fantastic worlds and that resonates with viewers. I don’t bemoan that, but it does motivate me to create art that reminds viewers that damage can be beautiful and that our own imperfect world is still wondrous and still wild. 

The Dissolution series combines modern digital photographic technology with a handmade, decidedly analog printing process that results in prints that are genuinely one of a kind, and that bear the unique marks of the artist in that moment, the unexpected outcomes of working with “impure” salt gathered from the Great Salt Lake,  as well as some of the indescribable magic of this very old process. Digital printing can guarantee identical, perfectly machined photographs, print after print. But for those who value imperfection and mystery, these handmade prints offer something special.
Poetry and writing have been integral parts of your other bodies of work. Have you incorporated any written pieces into this series?
While the Great Salt Lake has certainly played a role in my writing over the years, the Dissolution series does not overtly incorporate elements of my writing. I am very much looking forward to seeing Terry Tempest Williams’ gorgeous words alongside all the visual art in the Lake Effect show.
What is next for you after this body of work? How will working with the Great Salt Lake impact future projects?
The Great Salt Lake will continue to be a muse for me in 2024 and beyond. I’m looking to foster a collaboration with a modern dance troupe combining movement with some of my large scale abstract images of the lake. My husband and I will partner on an installation project later in the year. And I have a solo show at Finch Lane Gallery in the fall that includes some images and writing from the lake, as well. Lastly, I’m researching a new project that while not exclusively focused on the Great Salt Lake, will certainly incorporate it.

View more works from Alexandra Fuller in our exhibition of Lake Effect.