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  The AGE of STEAM  | Artist's Statement

Blackout .jpg

Black Out, 40" x 30", Oil on Canvas, 2016

The steam engine is the quintessential symbol of the Industrial Revolution, the fearsome and immensely powerful agent of change that linked coasts, devastated forests and buffalo herds, and even standardized time. The networks that railroads created were an earlier, physical version of today’s electronic internet – for better, or worse. And yet, unlike the cyber world, the train has a dramatic, and even theatrical, physical presence with all of its force and moving parts in plain view.

In my paintings, the red smoke – something no actual train emits – is my referral to global warming, a reminder that the changes the train has unleashed have led to our current predicament where technology threatens the very existence of our natural world that has, up to now, sustained us.


The incongruity of the train’s presence in arctic environments, as in Way Out and the elegiac Last Act, focus on this very threat. Other images, like Interruption and According to Plan. portray the network of rails as they are echoed by the contour lines of farmed monoculture, a vision of the planet as tamed and entirely managed, with nature nowhere in sight. In Heat Map, the train is seen as a glowing specter, haunting the night as a reminder of the power that we have unleashed and cannot agree on how to control. This is also the theme of the Age of Volcanoes. Finally, our inadequate efforts to contain the destructive forces of industrialization is represented in Obstacle and Encounter, where single individuals make what are clearly futile efforts of resistance.

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