These paintings are a companion series to the Missing The Megafauna installation at the Met. Each features a silhouetted megafauna that went extinct in the Late Pleistocene and with which humans for a time coevolved. My motivation in focusing on each successive creature was to sculpt a place in my memory to house the animal.
I researched the morphology of each creature and synthesized disputed conjectures concerning particular body forms and behavior so as to arrive at what I felt might be an iconic and individualized representation of the species. This process of contemplation was a personal application of my notion that as the ecosystem degrades and our fellow creatures succumb to extinction, there is utility in taking imaginative custodianship of the departed in order to construct and maintain the memory of an intact ecosystem as a resiliency resource for assistance and refreshment through crisis and transition.
As the series unfolded I became increasingly entranced and emboldened by the prospect of exploring equivalencies between rewilding as a conservation practice and as a metaphor or strategy for Painting’s formal rejuvenation.
To investigate the possibility of resurrecting an archaic painting strategy as a form of aesthetic rewilding, I situated the series in reference to the end-game minimalism of the late 1960s, when Painting ostensibly was struggling with its own extinction event. The bifurcation of the canvas into color fields reflects a compositional strategy of Brice Marden and other hard-edge abstractionists of the era. The creatures stretch from side-to-side, articulating the boundaries of the picture plane in a manner analogous to Susan Rothenberg’s horse paintings of the 1970s, when she was engaged in her own effort to repopulate Painting by making it a sustaining environment for representation.
I painted the megafauna in charged hues as an indicator that, when extant, each was a participant in the ecstasy of living.