The Painting Jackson's Hubris was made in 2017 as a demo for my high school advanced art class for a mixed media project I had them do. Since I was already experimenting with incorporating collage elements into my paintings, I decided to see the demo through to a final painting as well. A student of mine was already doing work with college and decided to use money as part of her work. This reminded me of the feeling my early punk rock collage art and political cartoons gave me. Teaching students at a high school level brought back a lot of nostalgic memories of doing art for a laugh, or to shock my parents or teachers, or just for the hell of it. This was ultimately a reflection on where I was with my art currently, and the sort of adolescent angst satisfaction from doing something shocking was extremely attractive to me at that point. I felt like a little deviant again as I used student lab fee money and copied it on the school copier. Since I have heard it is technically illegal many times in my life, it only made the moment all the more satisfying. It also conjures up connections with Jasper Johns Flags, which were part of the curriculum I was teaching in this unit. I had already been having fun using collage, but this project opened up a little deviancy that had been missing in my practice and ultimately loosened me up to make what I feel is a very profound work. The bright yellow hair and orange skin on Andrew Jackson is intentionally the result of creating the work shortly after/ during the election of Donald Trump, and the use of the imagery was meant to directly confront the ugly history of Jackson's legacy while also showing some of the contemporary results of manifest destiny with the inclusion of iconic oil well silhouettes. The fact that I can simultaneously pseudo counterfeiting currency, visually attack the legacy Andrew Jackson and American money, and create an image of an animal that intentionally creates an emotional reaction is really too much to leave it at one work, so I decided to make many because I liked it so much. Right now I like the 12 x 12 format because it makes the works intimate and allows for the money to be real life size.
The research I did into the story of the American Bison was tragic, and the image of the dead bison lying in oil was an unforeseen consequence of making the idea of the painting work. Consequently, it lead me to look at contemporary animals that were actually covered in oil. It reminded me of when the Deep Water Oil Horizon Spill happened in the gulf coast, and I remember seeing it on the news being horrified. When they showed pictures of the birds covered in oil it actually made me cry. It is interesting how this idea came full circle. The current renditions of this idea are all birds impacted by oil and gas development, and naturally, i have had to revisit some of those images. I hope to bring the viewer to some sense of compassion for the animal in these works, maybe enough to bring a tear, and then have it tied to exactly what is driving these tragedies to happen. the influence of big money oil and gas industries on our politics and society.