“What is the measure of progress? It is possible to measure the progress of the last 200 to 300 years in soil erosion. We can measure it in the rate of species extinction. We can measure it in pollution, in the toxicity of the world. Those things, like power and speed, are perfectly measurable.”
Wendell Berry: “The Myth of Progress”
These four (of six) latex, oil, and enamel on panel paintings titled (from) Lymph Nodes with White Blood Cells and Macrophages (for Susan and Jan) are part of a larger body of work titled CHEMICAL WARFARE. The series is a response to Berry’s perspectives on the “myth of progress” and questions the efficacy of a seemingly wholesale adoption of chemically enhanced living and the resulting impact on our environments and especially, our bodies.
Unfortunately, the positive embrace of scientific advancements that make our lives better is often countered by the consumption of chemically modified food products, the over-use of pharmaceuticals, and the impact of negative corporate externalities that pollute our air, water, and land. Undoubtedly, chemicals enhance and save lives, but they also damage and end lives. There is a certain irony in that we often engage chemicals to do battle with, in this case, diseases (pancreatic cancer: Susan Vogt, and breast cancer: Jan Sayer) possibly caused by other chemicals.
In Lymph Nodes with White Blood Cells and Macrophages abstracted biological micro interiors are combined with infusions of festering bumps and dots that envelope and penetrate, at once representing chemical infiltration, spreading biological growths, and invading molecular forms or patterned modulations that shift the biological forms from their organic, natural state to a more artificial realm.
These figurative transformations represent the changes in our bodies and environments caused by the endemic infiltration of chemicals – from Dioxins (industrial by-products) and PCBs, to the insidious Phthalates (the most pervasive chemicals found in our homes), Bisphenols, PFAs, PBDEs, etc., etc., etc . . .