The University imagined market scenes; Méndez had her own solution in mind. Hovering over the giant bags of Doritos and university paraphernalia she composed 24 extreme panoramic landscapes. Méndez refers to them as “ever sustaining landscapes. All products and nourishment have as their origin the extraction or harvest of the raw materials provided by the earth.” Méndez’s interest is to give the viewer a glimpse of these raw materials in their integrity and beauty, as well as expose the distribution and processing of these goods before they are conveniently packaged for consumption at the “c-store.”
Formally, the horizon lines of the landscapes have become thresholds onto imagining new, non-existent landscapes where glaciers float over puffy clouds and Nordic cows graze on top of tropical waters. Using her own documentary photography from far-flung places like Patagonia and the Sahara desert, Méndez’s landscapes tease the viewer to see beyond the horizon, which she views as “the perpetual aim of humanity.” Méndez sees this urge as a double-edged sword, and instilled in her murals this sense of ambivalence. Each of the six murals has an overall dominating colour – red, orange, yellow, blue, green and white. The first five of those colours correspond to the United States’ Department of Homeland Security’s National Alert Threat Levels red corresponding to “severe” and green corresponding to “low”. Méndez realised that “peace” – the most important ambition of humanity – and its corresponding colour, white, were missing from the chart, and it became her sixth panel. Her subtle critique, in her words, “exposes the sadly backward state of affairs of the current United States government.”
Placed in each landscape is a short line of text — a sensation, a glimpse of a memory, or a moment of an experience triggered by the landscape, including thoughts with regards to sustainability (“till the last tree” over an image of cows grassing), pointing back at Méndez’s interpretation of the core theme of the murals – ever sustaining landscapes, – which are being farmed, drilled, eroded and melted, for our “convenience.”
The six panels become an impression of the power and beauty of the landscape, and a message to question the cost of convenience.