work has always been focused around the process of recording
history, the creation of narratives, and the blurring
of fact and fiction. This series is conceptually based on the
19th century artist Thomas Cole’s The Course of Empire (1834-1836). In this five panel series, Cole depicted the cyclical
nature in which empires rise and fall, from savagery through
civilization to decay. This is an idea he also addressed in his
poems: imagery of storms, dead tree stumps, burning and vanishing
landscapes serve as prophetic warnings about the transformation
of the land in the era of Manifest Destiny.
Using his series as a starting point, my drawings and paintings
bring Cole’s ideas into the contemporary discourse by examining
the inevitability of social, environmental, and political decline.
To reference the physical and cultural landscape’s transformation
from savage state to Arcadian, consummation, destruction, and
desolation, I have combined images hulled from personal travel
photos of Rome, stills from the 2005 television mini-series Rome,
19th-century Grand-Tour paintings of Roman ruins and Mount Vesuvius, “tagged” portraits
of actual emperors, and Hollywood celebrities as Roman emperors.