Alex Gonzalez

Every Si(gh)t(e)
a Painting: Landscape De/Re-construction through Art

My work explores the human relationship to “landscape” through an artistic lens that highlights the ambiguous, relative, and subjective nature of perception.

Contemporary landscape architecture practice and education is largely focused on ecological and technical interventions. The climate crisis demands creativity, innovative solutions, scientifically informed decisions, and well engineered execution of projects. Aesthetic and beauty are viewed as secondary or indulgent, and the fine arts–once integral and foundational to design–are today largely unappreciated and appropriated. The gap between Art & Design has widened, and as a result I argue designers have trouble fostering in people the kind of care and respect for the environment that is critical for harmony and the long term survival of life on earth.

By modeling alternative methods and approaches for understanding and communicating, this thesis acts as a bridge that draws on traditions in the field while looking forward–addressing the needs of the present and future.



A photograph of sheet of plywood painted blue with a square hole framing a well composed view of the space–painted over digitally to look like a hung canvas.

Cover Image for Thesis book


A simple diagram of four panels showing circles enclosed in a square, intended to show how there is no "empty space" it's all full and connected.


A collage of 3 landscape photographs at different scales (2 out of an airplane)superimposed with one another to create one ambiguous view full of clouds and grass.

A collage of 3 landscape photographs superimposed to create one ambiguous view that distorts scale. Two of the images are aerial photographs–of cloud and gridded fields–and the other is of cracked pavement with flourishing vegetation.


A collage of 3 landscape photographs at different scales superimposed with one another to create one ambiguous view of river systems.

A collage of 3 landscape photographs superimposed to create one ambiguous view that distorts scale and our perception of large scale natural systems.


A well composed photograph of the side of the street on S. Water st.–lines andf shapes have been drawn on the image connecting points of interest

Photography flattens space and forces relationships between objects–very similar to painting Over time, I have developed an intuitive sense for composition, however I wanted to communicate it by highlighting and bringing out the various forces that contribute to a sense of harmony in our experience of the environment.


A series of 4 images of a utility box, a photograph of the site has been printed, framed, and hung on the site.

Beauty is all around us, it’s just a matter of paying attention. Reality is color and form in which we project meaning. I wanted to question the notion of “Art” and where it belongs by removing it from the context of a museum or gallery and bringing it into the everyday.


A diagram similar to the second image that blurs the boundaries of entities in space.


A photograph of a tree that looks uncannily like it has a face

Pareidolia is the phenomenon of finding patterns, such as faces, in random stimuli and non-human entities. I believe designing with pareidolia can help increase empathy in the urban environment by encouraging people to treat their surroundings with greater care and respect–like they would another human being.


A gouache painting of an abstract landscape representing the essence of a single day

Part of a painting a day series (two weeks) I did to understand how the complex and tangled web of feelings and experiences in the environment (the objective experienced subjectively) through time are abstracted, captured, and given form via the creative act through color, shape, space, pattern, composition etc.


A large scale abstract landscape painting that hints at trees, water, skies, and the relationship between "nature" and the built environment.

A large scale abstract landscape painting exploring the relationship between built and natural systems in the anthropocene. Inspired by the landscape paintings of Wayne Thiebaud, Judith Belzer, and Cy Twombly.


RISD Grad ShowRISD Grad Show

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