The history of the settlement of North America has been the impetus for my work for the past 20 years. Like most compelling adventures, this story is rich in encounters with exotic cultures, mysterious landscapes, and disharmony. The transformation of the landscape from wilderness to domesticated environment is the primary legacy of the North American narrative. The displacement of indigenous life in favor of cities, agriculture, mining, and logging was considered an essential component to a growing new country, but the consequences have been costly. We are left to contemplate the contemporary landscape with a mix of ambivalence and detachment.
The scenes in the paintings for this exhibition are titled Compensation for a Permanent Loss. They depict implausible vignettes of disharmony, humor, and hope in an intimate forest setting. These paintings are a reminder of the unsatisfactory substitutes we are left with when we lose native species like the passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet, or the Labrador duck.
Compensation for a Permanent Loss (The Last of the Buffalo), 2008
Gouache on paper
22 x 30 in.