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OPPOSING FORCES — debated utopia

Oil on canvas, 2009
Fruitlands Museum

During my artist residency at Fruitlands Museum I drew inspiration from the vulnerability of the otherwise massive tree structures—the raw visual aspects of the weather broken trees that resembled the sublime that this once utopian site inhabited.

Trees were important part of the Fruitland experiment. The intention of transcendentalists in 1843-1844 was to live in close harmony with nature and live off of the fruits of the land. The idea was that women would take care of amenities, while the male members would spent their time with philosophy and writing poetry. The supposed conversations and arguments between members of the transcendental Fruitlands Experiment as they debated over what the perfect life should be, inspired my on-site work.

These contradictions between man and the search for that “perfect life” cause tension in the intentionally unpainted details that bring focus to the void, and eventually leads to bigger questions: Do we only appreciate beauty in its absence? Why do we so relentlessly pursue perfection when it is life’s unique imperfections that make us so perfectly happy? Why do our eyes so easily “fill in the blanks” and in doing so, what are we missing? Where is that perfect utopia?

After seven months, the Fruitlands experiment failed due to lack of food


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