North Dakota Sea Bird

Unabashedly impasto oil painting
Of a pelican
Fitfully lifting out of the water. 
 
A beautiful range
Of white, feather peaks
Lifting out of the canvas.
Crashing sea foam green waves
Falling towards the viewer. 
 
The Sea Bird. 
 
The artist carries the bird
Wrapped in a plastic tarp, 
On his long hike
Through drizzling rain.
Across the flat grassland
Or rural North Dakota. 
 
His guide looks on stoically
As the artist walks up to
The pipeline.
To the pool of crude oil drippings.
 
And flings the bird in. 
 
And pulls it out. 
 
Rewraps it,
For the trek back
To the gallery. 
 
Anonymous
North Dakota Sea Bird, 2026 
Oil on canvas 
73.7cm x 92.1cm 

*This piece started as a recycling art discussion. About painting something, and throwing it into a garbage dump, and then posting on social media that the finder can have the piece. A way to ask people to engage with the act of recycling, of looking through trash like you’re looking onto at the belt at a recycling center or picking through refuse like that documentary about people living in the garbage dump in Nicaragua. 

I liked the idea of throwing away art and having that be as much a part of the painting as the work itself. 

I think it would be interesting to ask people to engage with the dangers of the Dakota Access Pipeline by tying it to the gulf spills. I like the idea of the original painting being in the very visceral impasto style where it is trying to reach out to you. I like that the original painting is an albatross lighting out of the water, and then it is covered in thick crude oil like the most iconic images of the Deepwater Horizon spill. 

I think it would be good for people to look at that painting and say why the fuck is a seabird covered in oil from somewhere land locked, and then think about the horror of the Exxon Valdez spill. So yeah, why the fuck is that bird covered in oil and what does it have to do with North Dakota.

Explanation of what an impasto painting is: https://emptyeasel.com/2007/07/26/what-is-impasto-thick-textured-paint/ 

Albatross picture I used as basis inspiration: https://pgcpsmess.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/456436.jpg 

Associated blog: https://pgcpsmess.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/white-pelicans-pelecanus-erythrorhynchos/ 

The pickers at waste disposal site in Nicaragua: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Chureca  

Dakota Access Pipeline wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dakota_Access_Pipeline 

Deepwater Horizon spill: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill 

Image of an oil covered pelican from Deepwater Horizon: https://blog.nwf.org/2014/05/study-estimates-around-800000-birds-killed-during-bp-oil-spill/ 

The Exxon Valdez spill: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exxon_Valdez_oil_spill 

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