hollow

  hollow 
  oil on canvas l 32"x96" l january 2010  l  SOLD  
   (click image to return to gallery)   
 
  hollow 
   (click image to return to gallery)   
  

This work is like Interior in that it represents two contrasting environments defined by moisture levels - in this case, groundwater.  The palms are meant to be growing in a local depression (or "hollow") in the dunes, but I imagine that  this cluster of dunes towers high above those surrounding it.  The portion of sky in the upper right of the composition, digitally added in to mask dunes rolling into the distance (see the original photographs from Erg Chebbi near Merzouga, Morocco below), is meant to create the impression of the larger foreground dunes as isolated and remote from the already-remote dunescape beyond. 

Erg Chebbi is located near the Algerian border, and is actually one of Morocco's few large dune fields (or ergs) - most of the country's desert areas are flat and stony or rocky and mountainous.   These peach-colored dunes rise like an apparition 150m above the featureless surrounding desert of dark gravel. Traveling into the interior of the erg by camel, the size of the dunes (particularly monumental given the lack of scale comparisons) and the obscuring effects of a mild sandstorm erased any memory of the landscape beyond, creating a particularly otherwordly experience.  The simultaneous sense of being on a different planet, and knowing that this island of sand is nevertheless clearly delineated and relatively small, created the feeling of empowering isolation that I explore, in some form, in all these works. 

Erg Chebbi, Merzouga, Morocco (my photo)

Erg Chebbi, Merzouga, Morocco (my photo)

Erg Chebbi from a distance (my photo)

Erg Chebbi from a distance (my photo)

The "oasis," standing in here for what would normally be a cluster of date palms, is taken from Bahia Honda State Park on the island of the same name in the Florida Keys.  The park contains one of Florida's last remaining stands of these Silver Palms (Coccothrinax argentata), found only in the extreme southern part of the state and in the Bahamas.  The limited range of this species, and my experience of its habitat on a small island, inspired me to accentuate its isolation by stranding a few individuals in the middle of an empty sea of sand.

I imagine this work to represent concentric zones of increasing isolation.  The erg, surrounded by flat gravel desert not shown in the composition, envelops the high cluster of dunes in the foreground, which threatens to overwhelm the tiny oasis of palms at the very center.

Darren

Grove of Silver Palms, Bahia Honda, Florida Keys (my photo)

Grove of Silver Palms, Bahia Honda, Florida Keys (my photo)