Inspiration for a Still Life

I am very inspired by Dutch painter Adriaen Coorte, whose work often features elements on the verge of falling. His compositions are set up in a way that imply “imminent danger of disintegration—something at the mercy of time,” to quote writings about his work. This lineage resonates in my drawings aligning with the fragile equilibrium of our present reality. The vulnerability, both globally and locally, to shifting climates magnifies the urgency of our shared responsibility to pay attention to something that will eventually affect all of us.

Adriaen Coorte, Still life with three peaches on a stone ledge and a butterfly, 1695

In my drawing, At the Mercy of Time, the shell symbolizes both wealth and the beauty of Florida’s beaches, delicately poised. This tension mirrors the delicate balance between abundance and environmental fragility characterizing our world. To further explore these themes, I connect historical art symbolism with contemporary concerns. The blue ribbon, once a symbol of affluence in Dutch Golden Age culture, now merges with the imperative for sustainable practices. The fragile arrangement, frozen in time, mirrors the ecosystems we must protect.

At the Mercy of Time, Graphite on Paper, 22″x 30″

Continuing to draw inspiration from Coorte’s collection, I aim to push the idea of time urgency in the face of the climate crisis in my latest work. This drawing explores how the constant supply of products relies on finite resources extracted from the earth, exacerbated by the practice of planned obsolescence. Planned obsolescence describes the practice of designing products to break quickly or become obsolete in the short to mid-term. The general idea behind this is to encourage sales of new products and upgrades as companies continue to pursue infinite profit gains.

In response, I am working on a new piece where I created a still life reminiscent of Coorte’s Still life of fraises-de-bois in a Wan-Li bowl upon a stone ledge, using a porcelain bowl, fresh cherries and a preserved butterfly. As with all my drawings, I create a still life to photograph to use as a reference to draw from. For this set up I had the bowl deliberately tipped, and delicately piled the cherries to where plucking just one would disrupt the precarious balance of everything—the inevitable effects of careless consumption. 

Coorte (R), Cunto (L)

Now to execute the drawing…!

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