RELATIONSHIP STATUS – COMPLICATED.
In three new works, artist Luke Myers talks about the tenuous relationship between man and his environment. Gallery opening Feb. 24 6-8pm at Pop-Up 265, Water St. Augusta.
Mining Beauty (160” x 55”, cut paper)
Combines the allegory of Gulliver’s Travels with the stark reality of silhouette, to lay bare the exploitation of our planet. The female figure, youthful and beautiful as the unspoiled earth, is surrounded by human lust and greed that seeks to subdue and exploit her every resource.
Hunted, Cursed, Damned (185” x 100”, acrylic on wall)
Memorializes three recently extinct species: Baiju, Eastern Elk, and the Great Auk. They are portrayed as larger than life figures towering above the environments they once called home. Each species was chosen for its specific cause of demise – direct human action. The last Auk was killed aboard a ship on suspicion of being a witch in 1844. The last Eastern Elk was shot by a trophy hunter in 1877. The Baiju were wiped out by the installation of the Yangtze river dam, and declared extinct in 2004.
Eastern Elk (Cervus canadensis canadensis)
One of six subspecies of elk that inhabited the northern and eastern United States, and southern Canada. The eastern elk was larger than its western cousins. A full-grown bull could weigh up to 1000 pounds, stand 50-60 inches tall at the shoulder, and carry a rack of antlers six feet in length. The last eastern elk was shot in Pennsylvania on September 1, 1877.
Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis)
A flightless bird of the alcid family that became extinct in the mid-19th century. It bred on rocky, isolated islands with easy access to the ocean and a plentiful food supply, a rarity in nature that provided only a few breeding sites for the auks. The great auk was an important part of many Native American cultures, both as a food source and as a symbolic item. Many Maritime Archaic people were buried with great auk bones. The last great auk seen in Britain was caught by three men from St Kilda.They tied it up and kept it alive for three days, until a large storm arose. Believing that the auk was a witch and the cause of the storm, they then killed it by beating it with a stick.
Baiji (Lipotes vexillifer)
A functionally extinct species of freshwater dolphin formerly found only in the Yangtze River in China. Nicknamed “Goddess of the Yangtze” in China, the baiji population declined drastically in a few decades as China industrialized and made heavy use of the river for fishing, transportation, and hydroelectricity. Baiji could be the first dolphin species in history that humans have driven to extinction. A late 2006 expedition failed to find any baiji in the river, and organizers declared the baiji functionally extinct.
Expressed Gas (60” x 40”, acrylic on paper)
Highlights the primary cause of global warming: carbon emissions. These works depict the molecular model of methane and carbon dioxide gas with loose, energetic brush work. The style connects atomic structure with the Japanese Enso, a circle drawn in one breath and one stroke. The exhalation of humanity is the inhalation of the earth.
Mining Beauty (160” x 55”, single cut paper)
The silhouette creates a stark reality. Here lies bare the exploitation of our planet, represented by the female figure. Commonly depicted as maternal, here she appears youthful and beautiful as the unspoiled earth. This direction emphasizes the drama of of despoiling.
She is portrayed in a Gulliver-esque panorama surrounded by Lilliputian figures eager to tie her down and greedily extract every last resource. Man’s blindness to his own destructive will can be seen throughout. The laborers working the ropes have no perspective to what they are doing – from their eyes it is impossible to see the whole picture. A man climbs a high mountain and thinks to claim it for his country – but She has no borders. A worker takes a break with his back to the hill – rocks rolling down from excavation above spell his doom.
The scene then serves as an allegory for our relationship with nature. She is on her back, vulnerable, trying to protect her nurturing breast. And we, in our smallness, have seen it as an opportunity to take advantage of her, to turn her fertility into profit, and her natural wealth into selfish excess.