For well over twenty years, my work has found itself at the intersection of nature and culture. My creative process involves deep research, travel and site studies in order to explore single subjects. For example, from 2008-2018 I made paintings that documented the explosive growth of wind power across the Great Plains. Working in situ, I made field notes and detailed watercolor studies that were later scaled into larger oil paintings in my Chicago studio.
I recently completed this series and began a new body of work dealing with water, drought and climate change in our Western states. I started this exploration along the Colorado River, which I am documenting from its headwaters high in the Rockies to its former delta terminus in Mexico. Lake Mead, which straddles the Nevada-Arizona border, is the vast reservoir created by Hoover Dam. Here in the middle of the Mojave desert, the melted snow that comprises the river is collected and allocated in the form of hydroelectric power and water for much of the Southwest and California. Lake Mead has been evaporating and losing replacement volume for decades, leaving the distinctive “bathtub ring” that indicates previous high water marks on the ancient landscape.
My newest paintings seek to document human interventions like this in the natural world. I am endlessly fascinated by places that reveal our hubris and ingenuity, our relentless need to command nature. As I continue to travel and paint out west, I am humbled by the seemingly limitless subject matter that demonstrates this uneasy relationship with the land.