Biological Regionalism Artist Statement

The artwork in this section consist of oil paintings and watercolors that have been incorporated into exhibitions, installations or illustrated articles. The following statement provides background information on how this body of work started and some of my thoughts about the most recent installations. The videos that accompany the paintings in these installation can be found in the videos section of this website.

Biological Regionalism Series

For the past 20 years, I have lived in rural Western New York and have worked on several series of paintings that investigated Cuban and American culture. The Biological Regionalism Series is one of a couple series that I am working on at this moment. It was started a few years ago although the research for it began when first arrived to this area and began reading about local history and began researching local entomology, biological cycles of regional salmonids (trout) and the role of local rivers in culture and the economy. As I acquired more information about this region, I investigated the painters of the Hudson River School of the 19th century and their role in American society. This art movement documented the expanding American landscape for the general public who had little exposure to this new environment. The study of biology, botany, geology and art was popular amongst the residents of the new country and piscatorial art and nature painting was considered a form of “high art” during the early 19th century. This art form no longer seems innovative in our contemporary art landscape although there is a need rediscover the connection between nature and culture. This connection is deteriorating as most of our social and economic reliance has moved to an urban setting. The Biological Regionalism Series tries to reestablish this connection by reintroducing the fish and landscape that are characteristic to a region through the use of traditional and contemporary mediums. By doing so, I hope to also create a venue to begin dialogues between historical and contemporary theories of aesthetics, social development and environmentalism.

As our culture becomes more homogenized by mass media and consumerism, the one element that remains true to a region is its natural environment. Although we try to manipulate it to fit our needs, most landscapes and their biological inhabitants characterize a region’s nature. It is an omnipresent influence that affects a region’s people and culture. The knowledge of a region’s distinguishing natural elements is being lost as generations continually become more disconnected from a lifestyle that relies on the landscape for survival and for spiritual renewal.

Paintings, video and wall plaques with historical and biological information are used to document local bodies of water and the indigenous fish species found in these waters. The regions investigated are usually a short walk or drive from the exhibition venue. When a viewer experiences the installation, I hope they begin to create an informed long-term connection to their immediate environment. When video and paintings are include from other parts of the country and world, it creates a connection between the viewer’s home and regions around the world.

While the regions investigated are specific, the issues raised are universal.