Here's my first draft artist statement ffor my September show at Attic Gallery, a visual essay on fire...
"Burn (Cascade Creek Fire - Mt. Adams - 2012)" oil on canvas 48" x 114"
the greek myth Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to
humans so that we could be like them. But it seems to me that fire
itself is like a god. At the dawn of becoming who and what we are, human
beings learned to summon this god at will. With it’s aid we became like
it, a seemingly unstoppable force moving across the land, capable of
transforming it utterly. The
domestication of fire occurred well over a hundred thousand years
earlier than any plant or animal, a vast gulf of time throughout which
people gathered around their cooked meals and lingered at the primitive
hearth, telling stories in the dark. After the stories I imagine some of
them stayed up just a little bit longer, as we do even now, gazing
silently into the shimmering glow of the coals. The fires we build at
home or in campfire rings stir the echoes of this ancient history.
In October 2013, at the Playa
residency program in eastern Oregon, I began a series of paintings
exploring this complex relationship between fire and human beings. These
paintings constitute a visual essay about the intimate role that fire
plays in our lives. At it’s center is a large portrait of
the remnants of a forest fire (the Cascade Creek Burn on Mt. Adams in
2012), four feet high by nine and a half feet long. Surrounding this
will be small works on paper (12” x 16”). Many of these are close up
studies of fires, their embers and coals. Others may relate more
indirectly to fire. They may be night scenes lit by the ghostly light of
an unseen fire or objects that may have some relationship to fire.
Fire remains at the center of our lives, perhaps now more than ever, even if we don’t often see it. By
burning plants that grew eons before we existed, we've coerced it to
carry us around in cars and light up our cities at night. We may have
learned to summon it at will, trap it and contain it, yet we cannot
completely control it. The Increasing and increasingly devastating
wildfires, especially here in the American west, are due in no small
part to all that hidden burning, our carbon boot print stamped onto the
face of the planet's climate system.
paintings are not intended to offer any opinion on our use of fire.
That would be like having an opinion on human nature. For good and ill
using fire is simply what we do. The paintings are meant to work as a
meditation on this fact, a reflection on the intensity and complexity of
our relationship to it. We need fire. Without it we would not exist.
And we love fire. It compels us in unfathomable ways. But we fear it
too. And rightfully so. In this way it is like a god, perhaps our first and oldest god. Now we have unearthed untold millennia of fuel to feed it. And it has grown. Now more than ever we must recognize that this god is not truly domesticated after all.