The Louisiana Coast maps study the relationship between New Orleans, Louisiana and the environment that fluctuates around her: the pressure exerted by the lake, the encroachment of the Gulf, the paper-thin, sensitive wetlands that separate the reinforced city from open water. In this environment, both destructive and constructive forces coexist; both within and without human control. These paintings explore those processes of coastal erosion and land-building on the Gulf Coast.
The paintings play with the rules of maps differently. Some forgo traditional map rules like scale, proportion and orientation. Distorted and expressive, they challenge their manmade representation like the physical process of coastal erosion challenges our manmade landscape. Those of land building function in the opposite way: conforming to the rules of scale and proportion, they explore human-constructed elements like levees, buffers, and terraces in hard-lined, controlled detail and relegate organic expression to the interior of these forms. In each, the paintings explore states that exist between control and chaos in a landscape indelibly altered by human hands and minds.
Delta: Alternate Futures
Southern Louisiana's long-term future rests on our community's ability to exist within a changing environment on a constantly fluctuating coastline. Our community has an incredible, moon-shot plan to work with the natural environment that protects our city and these paintings explore some of the projects within that plan.
This painting is based on the Lower Breton Diversion land-building project in Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan, designed to buffer communities from coastal erosion, sea level rise, and storm surge. Here, in deep, open water, computer models from the Engineer Research and Development Center USACE show sediment unfolding like a flower in a crevasse splay land formation. Delicate and deliberate, it would take a quarter of a century of perfect performance for the Lower Breton Diversion to create wetlands at this scale.
The painting recreates computer modeling results with haptic brushstrokes and coastal sediment, evoking a resilient living landscape. A paint-color scale roughly depicts displacement difference of land and water. Land created in the Lower Breton Diversion would be just under two meters at its highest point; a fragile, but indispensable protector of life on the Mississippi River Delta.
Kintsugi depicts our city, its water, and the valuable flood protection system that guards urban life on the Louisiana delta.
The painting's is inspired by the Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery in gold. To repair something in Kintsugi is to transform a broken object into something more valuable than the original, accepting and celebrating the breakage and repair as an important part of object's history. The painting shows a thin gold line between the city and sea.
2015, diptych, oil and wax on 12" x 12" panel
2015, oil and wax on wood panel, collection of Anne C. B. Roberts.
Delta: Alternate Futures
Lake Hermitage Marsh Creation Project, 12" x 16" oil on canvas, 2015
25 Years in Green Coast Conference Rm
2016, 42" x 60," oil, wax, and coastal sediment on linen, collection of Green Coast Enterprises
25 Years detail
2015, 18" x 24," oil and gold leaf on linen, collection of Pauline Patterson
Kintsugi in gallery
Crevasse Splay Study
oil and sand, 2016, collection of Brian and Diana Pham.
My hypothesis in creating Environmental Composites was that, when we picture nature and the world around us, we picture idyllic places - islands, rivers, the cosmos, the building blocks of life - and leave out of our intimate understanding of the world those images that are manmade and raise complex questions about our role on the earth. By blending the two together, perhaps the idyllic image smoothes the way for the manmade to enter into our subconscious and allows a more full understanding of both as real parts of our contemporary environment.
There's a beautiful history in art of using collage to reject consumer culture and these digital collages follow that tradition. The Environmental Composites focus on the processes that serve human consumption and on the landscapes and elements those processes create. Each is composed of two collaged images that remain legible while they merge together.
Roads and Rivers
Flood plain in Zambezi and construction site
Lunar Tar Sands
Moon north and tar sands
Phosphor Tailing Cells
Phosphor tailings and plant cells
Baltic Islands and tar slick
White Pelicans and Petroleum Biproducts
The Wildfire Maps explore humanity’s relationship with - and control over - the environment in which we live. Our social condition today is set within a mapped space wherein we know our location with ever increasing precision; pinpointed by satellites, directed by signs; in a world seemingly measured and controlled. A changing climate, however, demands we rethink our relationship to the environment, as well as our principal aesthetic product of communication about it: maps.
To engage this rethinking, the Wildfire Maps series recreates maps of fires that ravaged the West in the summer of 2015 and presents them divorced from context – butterflies pinned to sterile boards. Devoid of signifiers like roads and state lines they instead render the haptic and variable nature of the fire: its ashes, the winds that channel it through mountainous terrain, live wood transforming from raw white to burnt red to ebony char; and allow the fire to emerge as a living organism that challenges its controlled representation.
Like the fire destroys one landscape to create anew, its variable nature destroys the legitimacy of traditionally delineated maps and offers us the opportunity to reinvent a model of communication about our world more transitional, nuanced, and real.