Susquehanna River

Artist Statement

The Susquehanna River flows almost 500 miles in its wandering path through the eastern United States to the Chesapeake Bay and to the Atlantic Ocean beyond. The river provided the lifeblood of the industrialization of hundreds of small cities and towns in the rural countryside of upstate New York and Pennsylvania. It also stood as witness to their eventual, gradual, and inescapable decline and decay as they were out paced by evolving technology. The price of this transitional epoch was a heavy toll on the wildlife of thousands of square miles of the river basin. The inevitable death of a river based economy signaled a gradual rebirth of the species of this region. Throughout my life I attended on this slow reversal and resurgence of the land. I was born and raised on a small farm as one of eight children, not far from the banks of the Susquehanna. I grew up living close to nature on the rambling property of woods, meadows, and water. As each winter gave way to spring and summer my life would revolve around the creeks and waterways, wading in the cool water, catching crayfish, turtles, minnows, and the occasional, elusive, Hellbender salamander. New wonders, from tiny crustaceans in the mud, to the raucous and dizzying flocks of waterfowl were my instructors in not only the patterns of life and death, but also of form, color, light, and motion. During a childhood adventure I found a natural deposit of clay in the creek bed which supplied me with the material to sculpt objects that I baked in the sun and painted with old house paint. One of these objects was sponsored by a local 4-H group to go to the County fair, and then was selected to go on to the State Fair and eventually won a first place prize. This award for my artwork gave me the confidence to pursue a calling as an artist. Moreover, the same tributaries and backwaters provided a refuge and emotional retreat for me during the turbulent times of teenage angst, love, and loss. All theseĀ  images, experiences, and feelings were ingrained in me and surface again and again in my images and designs.


Decades ago the dark river waters circled and closed around endless noxious drains from the feet of endless facades of water and coal powered behemoths. Now the river runs with a freshening pace past those remaining brick skeletons, and pulses with recovering life forms. However, recovery was not
universal. Many species have become extinct there, and many others are endangered. The continued threat to our natural resources, both in the Susquehanna River basin and around the world, is something I feel strongly about and hope to promote increased awareness of through my art. The layers
of images and colors that I use are superficially pleasing and draw attention to both the contrast and similarity of the bio-diverse life here. Within each piece I try to convey a deeper message regarding the ongoing environmental struggles which I invite the viewer to ponder. I believe no one is unaware of
these challenges that we all face, and I want to add my voice regarding the growing need for action and acceptance of responsibility while creating these images that hold multiple meanings for me. I offer the images of the various species of animals and plants, those that are recovering as well as those that are lost, as a paradigm for my life and for human transitions in general.