Think Big! Think Elephants!
Jeff Long’s paintings below will be offered at 50% discount from the listed prices exclusively for the Think Big! Think Elephants! Fundraising Effort.
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Watercolor, Gouache, Ink on Paper Framed
BIRDS OF THE WEST AND OTHER PLACES: BEYOND AUDUBON
John James Audubon never traveled west of the continent’s mid point. Late in life he visited the Missouri River country in the Dakota Territory. In painting his “Birds of America” he was at a disadvantage in not having seen the species of half the North American continent in their natural habitats.
Jeffrey Long, for four decades a Westerner, seeks to address this omission and more. Bringing a 21st-Century perspective to the subject, Long inhabits a world in which nature has eroded to a degree unimagined in Audubon’s era. Only beginning to gain momentum in the19th Century, the unremitting onslaught of the human population explosion has continued to escalate through our own time. By now, many of its effects are irreversible.
While it is an artistic and scientific document, Audubon’s project is also political. So too is Long’s project.
Audubon’s birds offer a political statement in that they inhabit a new nation of vast promise, a continent still perceived by newly arrived settlers from the Old World as a boundless Eden ripe for transformation into an agrarian civilization. The birds are emblems of the fecundity and purity of a seemingly inexhaustible natural world. They stand for the exoticism of the New World, its health, vigor and promise of renewal.
While Audubon’s work stands as a catalogue of North American wonders, it is also a record of the last moments of an innocent world inhabited by naïve species undisturbed by the maelstrom, which was to come.
Long’s project, on the other hand, catalogues the history of species from Audubon’s time forward, some now vanished, some greatly diminished, and others conserved at least to the present day. Long delivers up the animal together with its back-story – the twists and turns added to the mix by human history and environmental degradation.