Jungle Drawings: Past and Present

On the steppes of Central Asia the nomadic herdsmen live in them.  They call them yurts.  In Zambia, Africa, they have thatched roofs.  They call them rondavels.  In the Caribbean Islands they are on the beach to protect from the sun.  In New York City, Chicago, and Minneapolis they are made of wood and are on tops of buildings for water storage.  In Southwest Minnesota they are made of galvanized steel and are used to store grain.  This common shape – triangle over a rectangle – is the source of my current work.  Nearly every farm place has a grouping of grain bins and I see them constantly in many different sizes and arrangements.  In previous work I often imagined a secret people inhabited them.

Most of my work has a border of rectangles that surround a central image.  This allows me to play with shapes and colours many times within a piece.  The idea of a series of film stills, or comic book frames, or windows on a computer screen is what I have in mind.  This predella format was used a lot in altarpieces and folk quilts.  Colour is very important to my painting.  It develops layer by layer as the work progresses, showing some hints of the previous work as the composition changes.  My drawings are pen and ink and they are direct: once the mark is made it is final; there is no erasing or redoing.  I enjoy working both ways.

Painting and drawing are the ways I explore and reflect on my surroundings.  One of the things that art can do is make us see things differently.  It is my hope that after seeing my paintings and drawings people will become aware of this universal shape that sits humbly in our landscape just as it does in other parts of the world.  Often we overlook what is right in front of us.

-David Strom