The northern Wisconsin land where I paint in the summers was wetter than normal this year and the mosquitoes became an insurmountable obstacle. It was impossible to paint outside, so my dad built a screened structure onto a trailer I was already using as a mobile working platform. I affectionately named it the “bug box.” It was a practical miracle. I could be outside, looking at trees and fields and passages of light for hours, without the aggressive attack of the wetland mosquitoes. It made my green summer paintings possible. Over the course of the summer, the bug box became a local legend, a metaphor machine and a conversation starter. The box came to symbolize a few different things for me. It was a reminder of nature’s own will to fight back, a structural echo in my paintings, and a physical metaphor for my own guarded feelings as a queer and awkward artist back home in rural America. Though the screen was a veil between me and nature, it was also my protector and paradoxically made me feel more connected to nature by making me feel safe and by giving me time to see and think. I wished I had a bug box to take with me to social situations as well.
A good friend who’s an organic farmer said mosquitoes will bring the first wave of climate
change epidemics. The bug box represents a future necessity to vigilantly protect ourselves from
nature. It also references age-old desires to control, design or make reason out of nature; the
screen, literally a micro-grid, offers a filter from which to see nature as external, and disconnected from the human biome. The paintings made inside the box explore the desire to
overlay the human mind onto nature. The pictures are interrupted by geometric shapes that
reference gravity and time and the negative space around things that control growth and entropy.