At the beginning of this new decade, fires and flames never seem to be far from the headlines. An elemental force of nature, fire contains immense power to create and destroy. As humans contribute to increasing changes in the global climate, fire seasons and cycles produce ever more extreme events from Australia to the Amazon to California.
But fire also heals. From the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Tallgrass Prairie in Oklahoma, naturally occurring fires are part of a healthy ecosystem. In fact, suppressing regular burns has led to catastrophic consequences in the United States. Over the past century, Smokey the Bear’s misguided forest fire prevention efforts left America’s western forests full of excess fuel, leading to today’s firestorms raging beyond control.
Like the Hudson River School artists who inspire his work, painter Michael Scott creates powerful images of the American landscape that speak to urgent issues of our time. The large-scale works in this exhibition all speak to elemental forces of nature: fire, ice and water. Beyond the physical presence of smoke and mist, Scott’s paintings reveal hints of supernatural, unknowable forces in the American landscape.
By portraying constant shifting environments, Scott invites viewers to consider humanity’s responsibility for our rapidly changing climate. With his contemporary homage to the American landscape, Scott explores the surreal power and fragile beauty of the land and encourages respect for the unknowable, elemental forces of nature.