Thursday, July 31, 2008

Finding beauty in chaos

Finding beauty in chaos
Oil on Panel

"You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star."

Friedrich Nietzsche

This is my piece for the Tahoe Lost and Found project, which my friends Melissa Gregory and Becky Bell (TAMC) are organising to raise money for Angora Fire victims. Everyone around Tahoe can tell you where they were when they first saw the fire, mesmerised and horrified as we all were at the time.

Taylor and I had been fishing at Hobart Lake on the Carson side of the mountain, so the first we saw of the smoke was the pretty sunset as we descended towards Carson City. I had been taking photos of the burnt trees in that valley - the trees made for very dramatic, black vertical repetitions, with diagonal shadows cast down the steep hillside. The imagery appealed to my more abstract leanings, and I took lots of cropped photographs before we descended a little further and saw the smokey skies for the first time. I wasn't sure at first what we were seeing - a hazy sky brought on by the blistering heat? But it quickly dawned on us that the haze was indeed yellowish smoke, and the hot pink sky behind it was disappearing.

We got home to Tahoe after dark, and from our deck high above the basin we could see the Angora fire raging. The mountain was on fire, and the glow illuminated the night sky. We could see individual trees bursting into flames through binoculars, spiraling upwards with ferocious speed. It was like the horror film you can't stop watching.

I did the abstract paintings the next day, but they are so black I don't know if I'll ever show them. I used to do a lot of very dark work, back in my student days. I try not to engage that side of myself these days, inspiring as it can be to plough the less colourful aspects of my imagination.

I think this painting has enough hope in it to show the world. As far as the theme of the project goes, 'Tahoe: Lost & Found', I think it fits somewhere in the 'found' category - finding beauty in chaos.