No Collusion: Wood burned tree bark, acrylic ink (on wood mounts), raw canvas. 6'x 10'
While completing the mosaic study, the media was busy holding conversations about the Trump administration's connection with foreign powers. A number of his inner circle had either left political life or were under indictment including his personal lawyer. As a result, congress appointed a independent commission to investigate allegations that the Trump administration had colluded with foreign powers in order to get elected.
A couple of years before, I had cut down alder trees on my property for fire wood. When processing the trees, I became interested in the bark as a "thing". Striping off the bark, I stored it in the shop. When the "Muller" investigations began, there was a need to address collusion in our leadership. The investigation suggested that protection of America's social and political values from forces in and outside its boarders had been compromised.
The Alder tree bark was an interesting choice to work with. The form of tree bark serves a similar purpose as congress. It is the outermost skin surrounding a tree whos function is keeping it healthy and strong and alive. I felt the bark cut into rectangles and mounted with spaces between them symbolized both strength and vulnerability by their spacing. The bark was processed yielding about 130 rectangular pieces. Working things out in the studio, the result was four sets of 30 rectangles. By this time the media was covering the investigation and informing the public on daily activities. It was evident that the Trump organization was lying. There was too much factual contradiction being uncovered causing Trump defenders in congress to become excessively aggressive and close minded. Daily revelations coming out about who did what, with whom, and when, revealed that representatives from the Trump organization were either lying under oath or following a Presidencial directive to not testify before congress and give testimony.
Working out how to compose the work, I created four separate groupings with "lies" burned into each grouping uniformly. A jig was made in order to make sure that the "lies" pattern was synchronized and moving diagonally downward from right to left across all four groupings.
Upon completion each rectangular piece of bark was varnished. This caused the burned in "lies" to loose contrast which brought out the details of the bark but masked the burned in "lies". I liked the idea that the whole composition was covered in lies and could only be detected by close investigation. With the overall work resolved, the final step was designing and fabricating mounts that would hold the bark away from the wall by 2".
Once properly mounted, it was possible to consider the work as it would be exhibited. While spending time evaluating the whole presentation, it occurred that the work had not adequately addressed the "collusion" element. Therefore every eighth diagonal column of burned lies was gone over in white acrylic ink. After spending time with that change, I went further to connect each white diagonal by hand writing the word "lies" across the wall space separating each grouping. The white diagonal ran off the bark, onto the wall, across the spacing and onto the next grouping. It symbolized that there are lies that stay confidential and lies that get shared . The attempt was to use the "white lies" as a representation of how collusion works. In addition I left one rectangle in each grouping blank symbolizing the deepest and darkest lies that are only known by a few or will never be known. Finally, the grouping to the farthest "Right" was intentionally set away from the other groupings symbolizing how a main group can control other groups by spreading lies around which many feel was a calculated Trump strategy used to control and expand his base of support.
A last element of the canvas framing was added. This was a bit of humor on my part. As a deconstructionist, I thought it appropriate to turn the table of conventions by making the image of wood and the frame of canvas. It may look like a petty detail but with such a serious subject, a little intellectual humor personally helped me stay focused.