Disaster Paintings

Nuclear Meltdown

We Deeply Apologize for Any Anxiety and Inconvenience, acrylic on canvas, 5' x 9', ©2011


Simultaneous contrast is not just a curious optical phenomenon— it is the very heart of painting.
Josef Albers

My new work continues my fascination with Josef Albers’ idea of the “structural constellation.” Like Albers, I sought to create a visual representation for an event seen from multiple points of view: to lure the viewer into the impossible position of seeing two things at once.

When I first saw the images coming out of Japan this past spring, I was horrified and shocked. When the initial dread began to wear off, I realized that there were other perspectives to the disaster and to the idea of disaster in general. How do you visualize disaster? How could you possibly represent horror of this magnitude?

In The Great Wave Pushed Them In, I seek a visual representation of the new energy forces made visible by the power of the tsunami that devastated Fukushima. Whereas this painting deals with the natural, We Deeply Apologize for Any Anxiety and Inconvenience takes on the nuclear, specifically the radiation released by the meltdown at the Daiichi nuclear power plant. But seen through Albers’ constellation, the airborne toxic event is not a static incident bound by the day’s news. For the viewer it is continuous and active engagement, a new cosmos.

Disaster Paintings reaches back to my earlier work with pattern and the 9/11 shrouds. As in my earlier paintings, I am invested in visualizing different points of view. But now the stakes are higher. Now the intersection of natural and nuclear power collide to create new constellations.