Acclaimed Artist James Perkins completed a nature-inspired installation that is currently on display in the Hannah Traore Gallery in New York. BURYING PAINTING is a collection that reflects Perkins’ love of the environment. It will be on view from May 12 to July 30, 2022. 

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Planks of wood in multiple colors

The series is a creation formed within nature on the beach of Fire Island. The process starts with silk stretched over wood frames. Then, the canvas is partially buried or stacked in a location chosen by Perkins. He refers to the temporary works as “post-totem” land art. They are a combination of sculpture and painting. 

Related: Art installation raises concerns on the rising sea level

A man holding a plank of wood with other planks of wood laying on a beach

Furthermore, the art is created through the melodic rhythm of the planet, with all the forces of nature weathering the materials. Rain, snow, sleet and the beating sun all impress their power on the canvas. Some natural materials even remain stuck to the art, including sand, pollen, leaves and twigs. 

Two planks of wood standing on a beach

Throughout the experience, the works stand as time capsules, capturing the effects of animals, fire, ocean salt and other elements. Additionally, Perkins manipulates the pieces. He changes the environmental effects by moving them or choosing specific exposure locations. Through this process, the sculpture becomes the painting. After adequate exposure, the fabric is removed from the wood stakes and stretched across a canvas, thus turning the sculpture into wall art. 

Planks of wood on a beach

Perkins relates the work to totems, which are defined as a natural object or animal that is believed to have spiritual significance. He summarized, “I’m interested in the beauty that affects us all. Sitting at the edge of the shore, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and hope. I’m reminded of the best sculpture ever — the Earth — the object that we all share. I hope we can learn to share better.”

A triangle wooden piece sitting on a beach

James Perkins received a B.A. from Yale University and a masters from the School of Visual Arts. He works in a variety of disciplines, including sculpting, painting, photography, film and land art installations. His work has been exhibited in galleries all across the country. 

Black and white image of a man standing next to a plank of wood against a beach landscape

Meanwhile, the Hannah Traore Gallery prides itself on being a space committed to diversity and celebrating artists who “have been historically marginalized from the mainstream narrative. Whether underrepresented, overlooked or exploited, HTG is building a path forward to share their extraordinary visions with the world.” 

+ James Perkins

Images via Hannah Traore Gallery and James Perkins