This exhibition brings together some of my favorite pieces created over the ten years since I left La Grande, Oregon and moved to Canada. From self-portraits to landscapes, animals to airplanes, pipelines to painter’s tape, the past decade resulted in lots of different imagery. But one common thread runs through everything: the relationship between humans and the natural world.
In some of these paintings the natural world appears as a strange pastoral vision, with animals from different continents coexisting peacefully among a collapsed human civilization. In others, it serves as a backdrop to illogical industrial structures, or a counterpoint to human greed and excess. Environmental disasters appear side-by-side with tranquil scenes. Military planes defend and violate geopolitical territories, while wild animals and birds unknowingly cross these borders. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the natural and the human-made, raising questions about our ability to truly understand the world we live in.
My source material comes from various places such as family snapshots, National Geographic, art history, torn paper, and bits of tape, resulting in a strange and sometimes unsettling visual experience. Like characters from the surrealist game Exquisite Corpse, my paintings are simultaneously grounded and off-balance, beautiful and ugly, enraged and serene. At times there is humor in my work, a recognition of the absurdity of life and the human condition.
The title for the exhibition is taken from a poem by Constance Urdang that really speaks to me. In her poem, the natural world is a metaphor for the artist’s inner life: the ancient whale thrives in solitude yet craves connection, constantly moving between states of alienation and attachment, joy and sadness. The sense of longing for an alternate reality, a different experience of the world, pervades the poem and also resonates with my work. I hope you will find connection with some of the pieces here, and create your own interpretation of what you see. Thank you for looking!
This exhibition is dedicated to the loving memory of my mother, Phyllis Plattner (April 25, 1940 - Sept. 18, 2022)