Amy Bird

Region: Pacific Coast

My paintings of surfers try to capture a distinctly Californian idyll while the paintings of field laborers are rooted in an entirely different reality. The two series hang as counterweights to one another, depicting leisure and labor, play and toil.

The surfer and strawberry picker paintings circle around a series of contradictions central to imaginings of the California landscape, and therefore occupy an uncertain terrain. The paintings take the contradictions of the place as their very subject, tracing the network of relations that generate the social and political landscape of the Golden State. The landscape is never simply natural, but always a construct -imagined and invented, enjoyed or imposed.

Similar to how the surfer and field worker paintings observe current scenarios; the series of tents in the woods contain their own opposition of past and present within a single frame. These images of un-peopled mountain encampments question our notions of the wilderness as a site of recreation by alluding to a time when the American West was wild and unknown, and camping was not an activity of leisure but one of circumstance and necessity.