New Work: June 2021
16" x 20"
Painted paper collage on matboard
And on to June! Just like that, we have another month ahead of us. Not sure whether I want to rejoice or cry a bit. We will see.
For May's piece above, I read a book by Elizabeth Kolbert, noted science writer. I had previously read her book, The Sixth Extinction, and had really enjoyed it. I have also read some of her short articles dealing with different aspects of climate change. She is witty, in a dry kind of way, and concise in her explanations of scientific happenings. I really enjoy her reporting and find it easy enough to understand but extremely frightening at the same time. The book I read in May is called Field Notes From a Catastrophe. It is one of her earlier works and this edition contains some updated information to reflect current thinking about global warming.
I enjoyed the book but it is scary so I am going to say this and if I offend some people, so be it. This thing is happening. Right now. There is no doubt that our earth is heating and that the consequences will be disastrous. There is no sense in quibbling over details. Any scientist worth his test tubes and thermometers will say that mankind has had a hand in the changes we are experiencing. There may be healthy scientific debate about acceptable upper limits of CO2 in the atmosphere (perhaps we are already there?) but make no mistake. We are heating up our world rapidly and the outcome ain't gonna be good.
Now, enough of that. On to the new piece. I decided to return to a kind of collaging that is a little more "direct" in it's intent to communicate something specific. I really enjoy working this way since it makes me feel quite creative in my thinking. There is always a danger in this direction though since the more specific you get I find, the more likely people are apt to not get exactly what you want to say. That's cool though too. If someone finds something particular in the work, other than what I intended, that is just as valid and as important.
In any case, I included lots of my favorite elements. Funnelhead is back and this time he is stuck on top of a building, possibly underwater or being buffeted by wind. He is trying to hold back a kind of Pandora's "box" (actually a sphere) which he has opened, sadly enough, and now can't control. I included some trees and maybe an extinct animal (megafauna-see how the animal is large?) along with a couple of hands that are interfering, as usual. Notice the one hand with a kind of roulette wheel and another hand tipping a sort of teeter totter device. I have got some thermometers and perhaps some falling acid rain on some vague tree shapes. Some parts of the picture are right side up and some parts are upside down. That absolute imbalance and topsy-turviness of everything in the collage balanced against a kind of orderliness of the shape placement is how I feel about things. I don't have any hope that our civilization is going to last no matter how awesome we think we are.
One of the things that struck me this time, artistically speaking, is how at odds the subject matter is with the colors and shapes and simplicity of the materials that I use for the collages. I suppose at first glance that the colors are fun and cheerful which is visually great but they are kind of in opposition to the levity of the subject matter, global disaster. Honestly, I don't know what to make of that juxtaposition of materials and ideas. If I had to guess, I would say that it reflects who I am. I am a person who has serious thoughts but perhaps doesn't always want to be serious in conversation. When I talk to people or write about something, I always tend to want to "soften the blow" so to speak so as not to really wallop someone with bad news. I don't want to make people feel bad but I want to come as close to the truth as possible, especially if that truth is accepted fact. I think my art reflects this intent in a very simplistic way. If you are a creative type, I think it would be worth thinking about your chosen medium and how it interacts with anything that you might be thinking or trying to say. It's a worthwhile exploration, in my opinion.
Last thing. The title, Consensus, refers to the idea that scientists and people in position to know can't agree on certain aspects of climate change, notably whether or not man is responsible for the warming up of the environment that we are currently witnessing; the rapidity of that warming. There really is no debate about this and most scientists are in consensus about this issue. Man has had a tremendous hand in speeding up our rapidly heating world. This is the one idea from the book that stuck with me. It's like arguing about how fast the oncoming freight train is moving when you are tied to the tracks and can't escape. No one would argue that the train is going to hit you if you don't get out of the way, no matter how fast or slow it is going. You are going to get squashed. Arguing about the speed becomes a mute point. Death by train is inevitable.
OK, I hope everyone has a happy June! If you see or read something interesting here let me know. I'd like to hear from you.