Terrain | Passage 01

Abigail Doan | Studio
3 min readMar 24, 2021
Terrain study | during an October 2020 day residency at The Mastheads

The first in a series of text passages, past and present, exploring the many ways that terrain is documented, interpreted, and (creatively) traversed. These passages will highlight materials, landscape phenomena, as well as articles/interviews exploring these ideas.


(1) : a geographic area. (2) : a piece of land : ground. b : the physical features of a tract of land.


On terrain as ‘textural text’:

[ excerpts below are from a dialogue/interview created by Hildreth York, Professor Emerita, Rutgers University, and curator of art and design at the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton, New Jersey ]

(Abigail Doan): When asked whether (and how) my family background had influenced my choices as an artist and environmentalist:

“There is no doubt that my childhood on our family farm informed not only my work ethic but also my view(s)on art making and the environment. Farmers are thrifty and resourceful, and my own family was no exception. Long walks in (local) fields, contemplative moments at the edge of our lake, and solitary excursions in the woods were definite paths towards self-knowledge as well as (stimulating) connections with the natural world and drawing … The surface of the land was a textural text that I learned to decode and interpret.” — A.D.

‘Connection 01’ knotted cotton string and vegetation | Abigail Doan | New Mexico (2006)

Curator, Hildreth York’s commentary on my work: “Installations done in and on the land use the earth gently, as in, the site-specific piece, Connection 01, (above image).

Groundcover 05 (Tumbleweed) | knotted cotton string , vegetation, soil | Abigail Doan | New Mexico

More recent fiber sculptures, such as the Tumbleweed series, combine plant materials with colorful fibers, as if some clever and mischievous spirit of the landscape left these bundles behind for our puzzlement, pleasure, and contemplation.

Tumbleweed forms in progress | dyed wool , vegetation, soil | Abigail Doan | New Mexico

However, make no mistake: Doan’s art is deeply serious and seeks to sensitize us to the life cycles and fragility of the natural world. Her passion for its preservation and regeneration attains a poetic level in her work and in her words.” — H.Y.


On terrain as ‘materials assemblage’:

[ Hildreth York was the curator for the exhibition, Knitted, Knotted, Netted, at the Hunterdon Art Museum in 2009. My work along with other participants was reviewed by arts writer, Benjamin Genocchio, in the New York Times. ]

“Ms. Doan’s works are endearingly casual assemblages in which plant materials, chunks of wool, thread, found objects and various other things are crocheted, twined and hand spun into little balls. In addition to being powerfully original, they are filled with surprises; one of her works here, Flotsam Fiber Forms (2009), incorporates bits of fiber, debris and detritus including a deflated party balloon.” — Benjamin Genocchio, NYT (2010)

[ all materials © Abigail Doan Studio ]



Abigail Doan | Studio

projects exploring the intersections of site-specific landscape phenomena, art lab/design methodologies, nature-based solutions, and cloth/textiles as metaphor