"The Chaos of Ghostfish"
24"x24" acrylics on canvas.
Personal Writing: I think lately I've reached a point where I'd like to start exploring more than just the colors in my imagination... portraiture connects me to people, but surrealism really connects me to myself. I haven't always been quite as confident in this style because I haven't found it to draw as much of a reaction from audiences in the past.
It's not that my focus on portraiture is driven by a desire to gain easy popularity -- I do love love LOVE drawing and painting human faces and that will never change. But there is definitely an easy popularity that comes with portraiture ... being able to capture another human being's image incites immediate reaction and wonder. No matter what, people are drawn to good portraits! When people are drawn to portraits, I get to be around people, which is great because it means more inspiration and sustenance for my extroverted soul.
Surrealism is just different because it comes purely from my mind and I have very little control throughout the whole process. As such, people aren't immediately sure how this sort of style makes them feel and the delayed response makes me a little anxious, I think. The same goes for my poetry. However, these mediums allow me to completely invent new rhythms and visions and it's wonderfully uncertain, which is part of both the anxiety and the thrill, right?
For once, I do have more of a direct story for this piece, mostly because it wasn't a really drawn out process (less life events) and I had a theme to stick to. Myself and another artist have been spearheading a fundraiser for Standing Rock and it consists of a massive art exhibit and concert benefit, featuring the talent of over a hundred artists (both native and non-native) ... and it's happening TOMORROW! We put out a call for artwork pertaining to Standing Rock, the #NoDAPLmovement, or the sacredness of water, and we got a fantastic response from artists all over!
All along, personally, I wasn't sure I would create a piece for the exhibit.
However, that attitude of uncertainty quickly changed during a lot of the behind the scenes work I've been doing for the exhibit. In getting to manage a lot of the submissions, I definitely gained some inspiration.
The Black Snake is a common indigenous analogy for the Keystone Pipeline / big oil. Huddled up in a blanket and half-asleep on my studio floor, I heard that phrase over and over in my head. Would it make sense to paint anything else? I kept sifting through different imagery and I couldn't shake the image of a serpent. Everything came back to the Black Snake.
I sketched it out quickly on my canvas and the initial composition proved to be a little challenging to work with. I'd mapped out a zig-zagged, black target for the body and fangs dripping with oil. The image took off from there as I decided to pursue a more free, illustrative technique, combining drawing with painting throughout my whole process.
I'd imagined the skeletons of fish in the pipeline of the Snake's body. I imagined a school of vibrant live fish trying to escape the same fate. I didn't like my initial placement of the ghostfish, so quite late in the process, I painted over them, keeping two that reminded me of my last surreal painting ("Dreaming with God"). I've noticed that, in each work of art I do, I like for some of my mistakes to survive until the end product -- by then, they're not mistakes anymore.
I sort of pictured the skeletons of the fish in the Snake's stomach to be just the physical remains, and the colorful fish that are swimming in the heavens above are their souls. Ghostfish are the product of this pipeline Snake, which bursts sporadically with fire at random points on its body. They are another form of fuel emission; the burning of the earth and its resources results in the releasing of its inhabitants' souls.
The partial turtle body connects the earth to the heavens, regardless of how scarred the landscape is.
I'd originally contemplated painting the protestors in the landscape above the Snake's body. The day I started focusing on that region of the painting was the day news got out about the denial of the permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline. I was somewhat unfazed by the announcement -- by no means is this the end. Indigenous people across the globe fight the same battle each and every day. The expectation is that everyone will go back to their day jobs and hobbies ... They'll cool down and return to a life of vertical deviance, fighting to simply adjust and not transform (in their entirety) the systems that are in place.
My hope is that we're not so predictable.
I decided to paint the oil rigs in place on the landscape. The land on which they sit is deteriorating. I contemplated what I could paint to contrast the evil of the left and decided to leave the right side fairly organic and blank -- I thought about painting something to represent burial grounds or along those lines, but it almost felt like that would reinforce the many struggles indigenous people have faced with regard to colonization. I didn't want to suggest that we've found the concrete solution to our battles with corporate greed and all of those hot button topics. Instead, I just wanted to leave a place where our imagination could still come alive -- where solutions could breathe, adapt, and spur new visions of hope.
Partial proceeds from this piece will go directly towards helping Standing Rock. One victory does not mean the end of the war.
#NoDapl #standstrong #standingrock #indigenous#blacksnake #ghostfish #moiravilliard #waves#lovewaternotoil #honortheearth #bigoil #nativeart#aichogalleries