Since January, I’ve been working on a new series of works called Flocking to the Pump. You can see the main works in the series in this earlier post, All of This Happened, More or Less. Four of them are currently on display in the 17th Annual No Dead Artists Juried Exhibition at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans.
In addition to more complex drawings, I’ve also been doing tiny, singular figure works on miniature landscapes studied from Google Maps images of oil spill sites and places I’ve lived and traveled over the last couple of years investigating energy sources.
Whenever I’m feeling down or confused about what I’m supposed to be working on/focusing on, I try to pop out a couple more of these small drawings on scraps of printmaking paper I save from tearing down larger works.
I thought I’d share the most recent ones with you here (the first 3 images in the post) as well as the other small works I’ve done on the same theme. Blake is also working on similar ideas. You can see images of his current project in progress in his last post, Recent Collaborations: Working on Working Together.
Silly subtitles and other cliche’s that I have associated with this series:
- It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here
- You’ve Made Your Bed, Now Lie in It
- Aerial View Areola
- Scum Shot
- Side Effects Include Oily Discharge
- Flocking to the Pump
- Live! Nude! Girls! and Energy Independence
- Bevy, noun: A large group of birds or girls
Here are some loose thoughts on these works as well as the Flocking to the Pump series overall, in preparation for writing a new artist’s statement about the body of work:
The female figures in the landscape could be seen as a “mother earth,” but I feel that is too trite an interpretation. I like trite better when it’s also funny. Drawn from my own body, the figures pose the question of my own involvement in the predicament of the planet. The figures are sitting, resting, lounging, and observing with occasional tugging at the earth and staring back into the viewer’s gaze. My own ability to stand by and observe and guffaw over news stories as I continue to take gas guzzling long summer road trips perplexes me. I make these works about energy abuse, the raping of resources, but what am I, myself, doing besides choosing to walk when at all possible, unplugging plugs when we leave the house and avoiding turning on my air conditioner?
I access a level of base bodily humor with the sexual suggestiveness implied by the nudity as well as the poses seen from the angle of another figure on the same level or slightly above—landscape as bed. Splatterings of oily substances visually mingle with thoughts of menstrual cycle and bodily fluids from sexual activity.
The figures’ giant size in comparison to the landscape represents the enormous impact each one of us has on the earth at large. While relatively small, we are numerous, overpopulated, and we each have a giant impact on the planet through our utilization of water, petrochemicals and space. The sexual suggestiveness of the figures comes back into play in representing our ability to so quickly and disastrously overpopulate the planet to the point of the extinction of many species, including our own eventual demise.
The topography depicted is drawn from found photographs of oil spill sites as well as landscapes I have lived in, traveled through and observed the local energy resources of. I take my own photographs and combine these images with aerial photography by Google Maps and snapshots in news stories. I merge the landscape with the folds in the fabric quilts underneath the figures, which are on the surface of a bed–making our bed and lying in it.
Despite the seriousness of these images, the humor behind them is what I hope will draw in viewers and encourage them to question the concept of “energy independence.” What small steps can each of us take in our own lives to reduce energy consumption? What can we do to encourage political action that will support alternative energy sources that don’t poison water, collapse earth, nor destroy delicate ecosystems?
Above, Willard Bay State Park in Utah where an oil spill occurred in March, and a natural beaver dam helped stop the spread of the oil. Haha… beaver. But, seriously folks, a terrible mess of a situation out there.
And here are a few of the earlier ones:
Above, an aerial view of the Keystone Pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas in March.
Below, my figure, covered in oil, sitting on Bowling Green, Ohio, a city proud of its wind energy but moving into coal burning. My friend Catherine C. told me that there are vast quantities of energy under us here in Ohio, but the shale is currently too thick for today’s equipment to be able to drill it.
Below, Murray, Kentucky where we lived before moving to Ohio.