“My life’s work is from an aerial perspective, a view of the earth I choose to transcribe onto silk using dyes in the ancient medium of batik. The art comprises a series of narrative landscapes inspired by the terraqueous reaches of the continent, where realms of earth, sea and sky converge. Each area is carefully researched, often by hiking the terrain, exploring the waterways by boat, and painting studies on location. Geology, topography, maps, charts, and satellite images are studied to identify features of visual interest.
Photographing from the open windows of my grandfather’s 1946 Ercoupe plane with my father or brother as pilots, we explore the natural wonders unaltered by man. I also hire instructors who guide me over their familiar landscape such as the canyons of northern New Mexico or the Appalachian mountains. Experience flying various aircraft allows me to set up photographic compositions with ease. When positioned, I hand over the controls to shoot with digital Nikon cameras. During an excursion aloft, as many as five hundred photographs are taken which will then be reduced to the best designs. An organization of the land emerges revealed only by altitude.
Once familiar with the subject, colors are chosen and ideas formulated. Compositional influences of traditional Japanese wood block prints from the Edo period are employed in the format and depiction of the floating world. Monotypes printed on paper are another art form that I explore. Working from memory allows for intuition and painterly technique. Impressionist and modern art are pulled into the image in my mind’s eye. A sensitive interplay emerges as the past, present, and future are considered.
Color is an emotional rather than realistic response, the design often abstracted. The slowness of the unforgiving medium of batik gives me time to meditate on thoughts feeding into the artwork. The goal is to evoke a sense of place that differentiates locations. The exquisiteness of a fleeting moment is captured on silk with dyes, as I attempt to share with the viewer a moment of visual poetry.
A Celebration of the World’s Barrier Islands has been my focus as I travel and photograph. Witnessing their vulnerability and noticeable changes from the aerial viewpoint brings subtle environmental messages through the individual batiks. Current impacts of global change stir my scientific and artistic interest. Images of our solar system and other worlds are a natural extension of this curiosity. The large-scale silks continue to expand with visual knowledge, whether from the small plane or distant space.”