BACK OF BEYOND
While shooting on location in Wonder Valley a nervous dog approached cautiously from a distance moving at an awkward angle across the sand. I was not exactly sure if the dog wanted to approach or run....however he continued to quietly position himself in the middle of my frame. The street sign marking the crossroad of this land is "Back of Beyond".
I have had a fascination with Wonder Valley since wandering into it in 2004. Oddly enough I wound up years later moving to the outer edge of Wonder Valley for a period of time in 2012. I have continued to return to Wonder Valley over the years and have collaborated with the poet Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut who has written several poems inspired by this series. I am often taken aback by the striking changes that take place over time. This desert shows no mercy yet those that choose to stay find a way to make this their home.
"Poised in an arid netherworld between strip malls and car lots, Wonder Valley lies just beyond the vacant, shuttered stare of the American Dream. Commercialism gnaws at the edges of this desert mountain wilderness - its embattled landscape of ragged palms, mountains, and eroding homestead cabins provides austere refuge to semi-nomadic enclaves of fringe-toed lizards, kangaroo rats, idiosyncratic visionaries and anachronistic loners.
In Back of Beyond, Martin immortalizes a 21st century desert struggle against destruction, and her lamentation for the disappearing landscape is also a praise song to the improbable power of endurance, tenacity, and longing.
Painter Deborah Martin has established a compelling dominion as portraitist of an archaic America – ravaged sites and forgotten wastelands that nonetheless resist destruction. Her luminous paintings and photographs reveal the beauty in the bleak, and speak to the tenuous balance between home, depravation, isolation, community and hope."
-Quintan Ana Wikswo
"Martin's series "Back of Beyond" features scenes of the unincorporated town of Wonder Valley, located in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. The imprint of America is more than apparent in this group of landscapes that feature large, gas guzzling vehicles from the 1970s and '80s. Bleached bare from years of unprotected exposure underneath the sun’s aggressive blaze, Martin’s vintage sedans, vans, and convertibles don’t only evoke an air of abandonment, but they chronicle that which has been forgotten in exchange for what our commercially driven society considers worthy."