This week’s web post was supposed to be about how happy I was that my collographic monoprint CONTOURS OF FLIGHT # 8 had just been added to a private collection in California. Then California burned and the building in which it hung had to be evacuated. While both I and the new owners value the print, we both also realized that it had no place in a “time is of the essence bug out bag”. The owners are safe and the building appears intact but about 40% of the houses in the neighborhood have been destroyed and others damaged. There are still close by “hot spots” and with record temperatures and high winds projected there is still significant risk. No one knows when electricity or water will be restored or even when people will be allowed back in to inspect the damage; if it will be deemed habitable or if items can be removed from it.
I’ve done two prints about the fires in California WILDFIRE and PARADISE LOST, both of which were abstracts done in the context of being 3000 miles away and without a direct involvement. This is different: CONTOURS OF FLIGHT #8 is admittedly just a very small part of the lives of the new owners, but through it, I think I have been given a personal glimpse into how devastating and disruptive these fires really are. They are not abstract concepts. Climate change and its consequences are not abstract concepts. People’s lives and losses are not abstract concepts. They can be expressed abstractly but they are real.