With the famous fossil hunter Roy Chapman Andrews as inspiration, I too have had several different jobs at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, from administration to diorama painter to janitor!
For the past 3 years I have traveled to Marfa, Texas, where I have shown my paintings and drawings at Eugene Binder Gallery. My current jackrabbit paintings are collectively titled "No Man’s Land." This work is influenced by the Southwest and rooted in the natural history of animals that exist in large numbers, with consideration of the unknowable nature of the animals’ instinctual motives within their environment. Throughout my time working on these paintings, I’ve started to consider the prehistory of environment and organism and the awesome improbable questions of our unknown future. My diorama projects and a recent trip to the South African Bushveld (a similar environment to Southwest Texas) have inspired me to look back, and learn more about the geology of the Permian Basin area.
The Concept: A Collage of Past and Present
During the Permian period shallow seas covered much of what is dry land in present-day Southwest Texas millions of years ago. Referencing a 1960’s diorama of the Permian Sea from the American Museum of Natural History along with a diorama from the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum in Midland, TX, an invented landscape will be fabricated in the back of a cargo trailer. This artwork installation will be what I call a “portable landscape” and the first in the series. My goal is to connect the ancient to the present environment with the people living in Marfa, Texas, and the surrounding area, and call forth the primordial sense one feels while traveling through this land.
The overall structure will be a standard 6ft x 10ft cargo trailer centered in the gallery. Like looking through the viewfinder of a camera, a window will be cut into the side exposing an intimate underwater scene diorama. A painted ultramarine blue-green background, a three-dimensional foreground with objects and a proscenium will be constructed inside the trailer creating an ancient oasis, and offer sun-drenched viewers refuge as well as a look into the past.
The seabed landscape will be barren incorporating a variety of casted and real fossils including brachiopods collected in the area. Today, these fossils continue to lie buried underground waiting to be discovered and maybe even owned!
The deep Southwest is often associated with journey, distance and space, survival and dehydration, borders and ownership, roadside Americana, aliens, religion, fossil hunting, crude oil, cattle ranches, freedom and exploration. An artist catalogue titled “Field Companion” will accompany the work and illustrate a behind-the-scenes look at the artist’s “idea-prospecting” with the intent to arouse the nostalgic and sometimes possessive powers that these ideas can evoke in people.
What Your Donations will cover:
-The cost of a cargo trailer (used or new)
-Lumber and construction supplies and lighting
-Sculpture and painting supplies
-Printing fees for the artist catalogue
What the Artist has Up to Date:
- A venue: Eugene Binder Gallery, Marfa, Texas, opening date: October 8, 2010.
- Workshop and space to complete the project including tools.
- Living accommodations
- Fossils, molds, drawings, photos, research, books (etc)
- Completed electronic copy of the catalogue
- (33 days)