SCORCHED EARTH: PRAIRIE EXTIRPATION
This body of work was recently shown at the West Wing Gallery in Swift Current, SK, as part of the 2019 Culture Olympiad exhibition in conjunction with the Western Canadian Summer Games. It was also shown in the 2017 summer exhibition at the Art Gallery of Swift Current, Oh Canada: The View From Here, as well as the 2014 Southwest Open at the West Wing Gallery in Swift Current, SK.
The series of wildlife portraits focuses on native Saskatchewan fauna that have been devastatingly affected by human interference, primarily due to Colonialism and the related acts of overhunting, farmland expansion, and livestock protection.
Each portrait shows the charred outline of an animal who once lived here. The plains grizzly is now extinct. The grey wolf was driven out as pastures of vulnerable livestock replaced natural grasslands. And the plains bison, who once roamed the prairie in excess of 30 million, fell victim to genocidal policy – the Canadian government under John A. MacDonald all but wiped them out, hoping to simultaneously wipe out the people who depended on them.
There is ferocious debate in our agriculture-driven society over what has the right to survive. Scorched Earth intends to expose the real invasive species: the European Colonizer is the animal who was never meant to be here.
Wood burning seemed like a fitting medium for this project; it scars the landscape in the same way we have. I'm hoping to formally complete this series soon by finishing the swift fox and burrowing owl portraits in pyrography as well. Each wood burning is 4x4 feet across -- they have a way of really staring you down and confronting you.