Pics of my process, from rough sketches to final painting.
Third Eye is about feeling helpless in the face of global climate change and resulting climate catastrophes. In this self portrait I am reduced to a giant head, separated from my body and unable to take action. I am too big, too unnatural, too “other” to work with the landscape. At the same time, the prairie landscape — patchworks of arbitrary borders and irrigation circles — reflects its own history of not fitting in. Humans have constantly modified the landscape to meet our own expectations, making it impossible to distinguish between natural and synthetic, real and illusion. What defines an invasive or a native species? Where is the border between natural and artificial? Who and what belongs in a particular place?
The third eye that has been taped onto my forehead should allow me to see clearly and calmly, but it is just an illusion. This painting is about me, but also about our entire culture.
Like my disjointed self-portraits, our society is struggling to hold itself together right now amid extreme social and political polarization. As a community, we are conflicted about our relationship to the natural world. Even in the face of increasing climate catastrophes on our doorstep, we are unable to agree on a path forward. Yet the fact that we continue to function as a society at all is a testament to our communal resilience and hope. I want my work to embody this balance between crisis and resolution. Even when we feel like we might fall apart, as individuals and as a society, there is beauty, humour, and grace to be found where we least expect it.
Third Eye with my daughter for scale