About the Painting 1981- 1994
My paintings concern human interaction with the natural world. For many years I have spent each summer in a log cabin in the middle of the remote Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho. Every phase of my work has been influenced by a consideration of ways in which Americans view nature, from its extreme manifestation in the wilderness to its gentle appearance in flowers cultivated on an urban windowsill.
In the series, entitled Wild Signs, triangular stretchers are placed together in different configurations to create a sign system (representing triangular shapes in nature such as mountains and valleys). This system allows me to take nature apart so as to study its forces. The triangles seem to turn on their points, to soar against gravity, to fall, to fold over one another, to behave like tectonic plates. These are paintings of forces that are so strong that they strain and warp the clear geometry of the sign system. These triangles also represent the arbitrary ways in which we designate and carve up wilderness with little respect for the dynamics of ecosystems.
The series of 16-18 foot panoramic paintings, called Take Only Pictures, was influenced by Le Corbusier’s description of the long horizontal window that simultaneously gives us nature and takes it away. Unlike the French window, whose narrow verticality limits our view of nature while allowing us to stand in the midst of what we are viewing, the long horizontal window opens broadly to the landscape, but affords no place for the viewer’s feet. I chose the long horizontal because it allows us to experience the paradox of wilderness in America. We can designate wilderness areas and experience their power, but we cannot be a part of wilderness, because of the overbearing effect of our presence on nature. Part of us must remain always standing on the outside.
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