Michael B. Mason A&M AZ

Artist Statement

Memories, reference photos, daily observations, as well as historical research provide starting points for my work. Early mark-making is generally spontaneous and establishes the foundation from which the initial topography of the work is formed. Using a variety of tools, my journey across the surface is guided by an intuitive editing process that seeks to coalesce the matrix of shapes, forms, lines, and colors into a cohesive image. I work with acrylic paints, water-based cold wax, and a variety of other media to create representational and non-representational abstract images on canvas, cradled panels, and paper.

My current body of work, “Powell’s Prophecy” explores climate change and the diminishing water resources of the American west through the ideas and observations of John Wesley Powell, the second director of the U.S. Geological Survey (1881 – 1894). A geologist, explorer of the American West, and professor at Illinois Wesleyan University, Powell believed the west was too dry for large scale agriculture and human settlement, and that growth should have been regulated. Powell also believed that the borders of western states should have been drawn along watersheds (rivers and mountain ridge lines) rather than politically to prevent water from becoming a source of contention between states. This work combines abstract representations of the bathtub ring, the white calcium carbonate deposits left behind as the water recedes at America’s second largest reservoir, Lake Powell, with historical and contemporary images and text. Through my work I attempt to communicate the prophetic words of Powell, and how the ideas, beliefs, and decisions of the past 131 years, along with historic drought have contributed to the growing water crisis in the western United States.

Michael B. Mason

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