It is difficult to describe the initial shock and horror at watching the devastating effects of Russia invade Ukraine in March 2022 from half a world away. The stream of images, news stories, personal experiences, videos shot from people's phones, gave the feeling that even though it was a war happening distantly in a land I knew very little about, it was also intensely close and personal. It was impossible to look away, to ignore it and its accompanying terror, just as it was impossible to not cheer for every Ukrainian victory and weep for every loss. As an American born in the early 1980's, I have lived through many of these distant wars, many caused by my own country, but this was one I felt acutely in my deepest being.
I had no idea how to make art about it.
War is so big. It devastates entire towns and villages in seconds; slowly, insidiously creeps into one's psyche to take root; overwhelms and changes every part of those who must go through it; is filled with huge periods of emptiness and aching waiting followed by earth shattering blows. It is crushing in every sense of the word, and I was humbly overwhelmed at the idea of trying to express any of that, especially as it isn't something I have personally experienced. The idea of war's "bigness" was the major instigator for this series. Instead of filling every inch of the canvas as I usually do, I deliberately set out to use as few elements in as stark a background as possible. Every piece of media means something in this series, even the emptiness in which the pieces live is representative of the hours and hours that people spend in basements waiting. Waiting for the next bomb, for the chance to find water, for news of a friend or loved one. Waiting until the next piece of crushing devastation comes.