“Portrait of the artist’s wife, Leighton, eating an apple.” 2009

I live in a world that is filled with sublime beauty and lots of trash.

Much of my trash is the symptom of an obsolete economic model that has served its time and is ready to be replaced by more localized solutions whereby resources are conserved and managed in a sustainable manner.

For the moment, if I choose to live in this world without removing myself completely from society, I have to embrace the trash as part of the natural bounty of the earth. Or at least a bi-product of the human relationship, collectively speaking, to that bounty. 

And trash can be quite beautiful, in and of itself. Certainly it comes in all different and pretty colors. 

But what is trash really other than a manifestation of our collective separation from our immediate environment.  If the majority of food is grown and distributed locally we lose much of the need for trash, and of course we also cut down on carbon emissions.

In this sense this painting represents a deliberate subversion of the romantic ideal of a single passing moment, unaware of, and seemingly unspoiled by the cumbersome commercial activities of everyday modern existence.

The reality is that the ideal of a beautiful girl eating an apple (this is my partner actually) in a green Eden of sunshine and tweeting birds just seems harder and harder to reconcile, we all know that our landscapes are not unaffected by our industry and that we are entering a time where our current relationship to our greater environment seems set to turn round and smack us in the face, if it hasn’t already.

We are all glad to have our trash picked up, week in, week out.

But where does it all go (I mean multiplied by six billion)?

To get a sense of this question you might visit Chris Jordan’s website. He recently created a series of works called “Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait”, whereby he presents the sobering statistics in visual terms. Of course, the US is the epicenter of material consumption and so represents the maximum level of mass consumption relative to the rest of the world, yet still represents only a portion of the global scenario.

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