Michael Owen

Region: Northeast

America is a strange place. To me, it is beautiful, and it is broken. Some time ago, I had the thought that this country is like a car without a driver. It's not just that our leadership is failing us. We are failing, and have been for a while now. That said, I still have a deep affection for America and Americans, as confounding as they sometimes are.

In these paintings, I try to convey my mixed feelings. I choose the images intuitively, from a long list on my wall that I am constantly adding to. They are images from my honeymoon, or my adolescence, or from the internet, or from my daily life. They represent the things I love about living here and the trepidation I have about where we are going.

The soldiers in Iraq are the same people as the surfer girl and the kid going to the semi-formal dance. The burning palm trees are similar. We live in an incredibly beautiful place, but we are giving it up in huge chunks for short-sighted "development."

The white space around the images is important. First, it cuts to the chase, gets to what is crucial. Second, the white becomes an active participant in the scene, especially in the soldier pictures. It isolates them, makes it hard to move, like in a dream.

I have a dream about a driverless automobile. Blindly, it pushes forward. It is not slowing down for anything or anyone. Good luck, car.