There is one thing that I spent a while wishing I could experience, knowing full-well that I couldn’t: grasslands hosting an endless herd of wild buffalo. American settlers put an end to that for sport and greed; not my ancestors, but still I am American, and I feel in some strange way responsible, or at least ashamed. It was a series of acts far out of reach of our primitive sensibilities as humans to do something like that, but still it was done, and now we find them in small, fenced pastures. I think about the ancient peoples who wondered at migrations of animals, and who hunted them, fearful and thankful, and how they were so essential to their being that they even made drawings in caves and on stones. It’s like they were coming to terms with their world.
In early 2010, with all of the above in mind, I set out to make a cave painting. I used vine charcoal, red clay from the ground, and stones. I don’t have any caves near me, so I used a cement wall as the canvas. My aim was to make it simplistic, like the paintings in Lascaux, and close to life-sized, to give emphasis to the scale of the actual animal. It was the largest work I had completed to date, and I fell pretty hard for the process of working in such a way: the physicality of it, the satisfaction of working my hands raw and muscles sore for something creative. It was completed in about 5 hours, and is still partially visible today. Here’s the result: