Perspectives on Life, Paintings by Diana Ozolins
Through the month of September, 2014, I will have a series of paintings exhibited at the Moosewood Restaurant. This was a great opportunity to show several series that span a number of years. In the Cafe, there will be the most of the environmental disaster and political upheaval series – food for thought, along with information packets about the issues portrayed. In the large dining room, I have enough space to spread out the second Schoodic series, as well as paintings done at the St. Lawrence and some recent plain air paintings done in Ithaca. The following is the artist statement that explains this show. The Moosewood Restaurant is located in Dewitt Mall, corner of Seneca and Cayuga Streets in Ithaca, NY.
I chose the pieces for this show with a mind towards balancing celebrating the beauty of life in this exquisite world, and keeping a thoughtful perspective on the outrageous violence and destruction that we humans can inflict upon nature and each other.
Half of these paintings portray political upheaval, natural disaster, and violent acts. I ask myself, how can life go on in a place where at every moment one can anticipate death; where people live in rubble, and have no way of meeting basic human needs for food, water, sanitation, education, freedom of movement and employment. People are fleeing unspeakable conditions, only to die on the way or to crowd into even more horrid conditions. In Ithaca, there are many families in diaspora, bringing with them stories of survival in conditions of war and oppression, having rebuilt their lives here. It seems that the capacity for inflicting misery on fellow human beings is only increasing. We commit thoughtless acts of violence against the natural world as well which endangers the beauty and resources that we take for granted but need so much for our survival and well being. Incredibly resilient creatures, we have a capacity for survival, but we are coming dangerously close to reducing the ability of the earth to sustain us. Do we have the capacity to change our ways? I paint these images to come to terms with the turmoil and despair that the daily news can stir up within me. I display them to keep these issues in the collective consciousness of our community.
Clinging to life with little to no hope is not what life is meant to be. There is so much more possible by way of beauty and joy, music and laughter. The world is rich with resources to fill our basic needs and satisfy our desires. That is why the other half of these paintings celebrates the beauty that abounds in nature. Nature should not just be a balm to sooth our wounds or an elixir to make our spirits strong. We are not by nature weak and wounded creatures. We evolved within a system, though harsh and rigorous at times, that abounds with the resources we need for a beautiful life. Nature provides nourishment not just to grow strong bodies but also to please our palate. It provides not just materials to clothe and house us but to do so with art. We can continue to list the benefits, but it is more important to remind ourselves that we have the responsibility to treat the earth gently, not take more than it has the ability to replenish, and to distribute the resources equitably so that all can benefit.
I hope these paintings can help us think carefully about the way we use the world and whether every interaction with our neighbors and strangers is conducted with dignity and respect. Then, as you dine on the Moosewood’s fine cuisine, I hope you enjoy the beautiful landscapes.