Monday, October 22, 2012

Animalier: The Animal in Contemporary Art

If you happen to be in Oklahoma this next month, be sure to check out Northwestern Oklahoma State University's gallery and exhibition Animalier: The Animal in Contemporary Art.

Wherefore art thou
(Vermivora bachmanii, extinct 1962)
Female above, male below
Watercolor on paper adhered to canvas
8 X 10 in each

The term “Animalier” was first used by an art critic as a derisive title for the 19th century sculptor of animal bronzes, Antoine-Louis Barye. The epithet was in keeping with the use of animal names as terms of reproach. The term gradually lost its original contemptuous intention and is used specifically to describe 19th century animal sculptors and broadly to describe any artist who chooses to focus on the animal form. The description of animals, whether symbolic or scientific, has been a concern of artists since the dawn of recorded history.
This exhibition is intended to present a variety of approaches to the concepts concerning the representation of animals in contemporary artistic practice. 

 I'm proud to exhibit my paintings in this great show. Unfortunately, I will not be there for the reception but I'm sure it's going to be a great event.  Info is below if you are interested:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Background behind "Close Again"

I recently finished a painting that I have been working on and off since I finished school and I feel it deserves some background history and explanation to accompany it. 
In broadest terms, it is a painting of two Carolina Parakeets, or Conuropsis carolinensis, which become extinct in 1918. This colorful parakeet used to be the only native parakeet to North America. In the winter, these birds were far north enough to look like drops of rainbow in a field of snow. The Carolina was an extremely social bird, as most parakeets are, and were seen frequently in large flocks. Due to habitat destruction, hunting, and other factors, this bird is no longer seen in our Midwestern landscape.

On record, the last two birds of this species, a pair named Lady Jane and Incas, were held captive in the Cincinnati Zoo. While zookeepers waited in hope that the pair might reproduce and keep their species alive, the two birds were too used to their large flocks to help raise their offspring and long past their breeding age. When Lady Jane finally died in 1917, it didn't take long for Incas to follow--his keepers claimed he had died of grief.

There are a lot of great facts about the Carolina Parakeet: its history, range, habitat, behavior, etc. that are all very fascinating, but this story caught my full attention. So very tragic, and yet so beautiful, these birds and their story. What if, in some other world, these two found each other again? Were able to break that mysterious boundary from living to extinct and be together and close once again? I am not claiming this "place" to be heaven or purgatory or hell or even real, but I believe there has to be somewhere for these birds to be with each other again....somewhere peaceful, yet unclear and forgotten. In this place, the birds are not alive, not dead. It has to be something beyond merely existing....
...I think that is a good place to stop.