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No Collusion: Wood burned tree bark, acrylic ink (on wood mounts), raw canvas. 6'x 10' $30,000 installed
While completing the MAGA Ghost Flag, the election was over and it was clear that Trump had won a surprising victory over Hillary Clinton and his administration swung into action. By May of 2017 the media was busy questioning the Trump administration's connection with foreign powers and congress had authorized an investigation that the Trump administration had colluded with foreign powers in order to get elected resulting in a number of his inner circle being forced to leave political life or were under indictment resulting in conviction.
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 as a creative function. 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 function of tree bark in nature serves a similar purpose as congress. It is the outermost skin surrounding a tree keeping it healthy, strong, and alive. I felt the tree bark, symbolized both strength when whole but was vulnerable when broken up into pieces following the "divide and conquer" principle. The bark was processed yielding about 130 rectangular units. Working their function out in the studio, the result was four sets of 30 rectangles.
All media outlets were covering the Muller investigation daily. Evidence being discovered supported the claim that the Trump organization was lying. There was enough factual information being uncovered causing Trump defenders in congress to become excessively aggressive and close minded and they appeared to turn their backs on democracy, the rule of law, and their oaths to uphold the Constitution. Daily revelations coming out about who did what, with whom, and when, revealed that representatives from the Trump organization were either lying under oath, obstructing the investigation, or following Presidential directives to not cooperate with 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 evenly.
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" on 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 propagating 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.
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