What do we mean when we talk about “oil consumption”? The average American uses around three gallons of oil a day. It is an essential part of our economy; it drives our vehicles, flies our planes, is the base for the synthetic products we use in the household or in the clothing we wear. It is even part of the food we eat.
Why paint or write or even think about any of this? Because oil is a finite resource. We have already used over half of the earth’s oil supply, in just about a century’s worth of consumption. I use petroleum products every hour of every day, and I wanted to take a moment to slow down and learn about why and how it has become such an essential part of my existence.
This body of work began in 2017 during an art residency in a tiny, rural town in Oklahoma called Alva. It observes the intimate, complex relationship humans have with our petroleum products.
It is about the oil jacks that litter the landscape, rocking up and down.
About the refineries—their necessity and their ugliness.
It hints at the everyday life enabled by and shrouded in petroleum, and our complicity.
It is about the history of oil, of the automobile, of American innovation and destruction and of our need for speed and convenience, which always go hand-in-hand.
As energy industries continue to innovate and markets to shift, as fossil fuel resources become scarcer and renewable energy sources become more abundant, this multimedia installation opens the door to consider humanity’s relationship with oil.