The Architecture of Car Culture

“The Architecture of Car Culture”
Norfolk Arts Center, Norfolk, NE
July 12 – August 17, 2012
reception July 12, 6 – 8 PM

This exhibit was also shown at Morningside College
Eppley Art Gallery
August 20 – Sept 16, 2012
reception September 5, 5 -7 PM

Artist’s Statement

The Architecture of Car Culture is a series of paintings responding to forms that follow the functions of our driving society. Bridges are featured because they present such beauty and invite so much metaphor. I knew from the first that no body of work that I could produce would adequately represent, but here’s what I have seen.

In Design Futuring, Tony Fry proposes that “everything designed goes on designing,” and uses the example of the Internal Combustion Engine invented by Karl Benz in 1885. Fry contends that Benz could not have envisioned what followed. Beyond the considerable development of vehicles from cars to trucks to planes to earth-moving and military equipment, what has followed includes the transformation of road design, leading to changes in cities, to industry, to government and to individual behaviors and expectations. For example, he writes:

“Motor vehicle road usage has, in turn, led to the proliferation of fixed and electronic road signage; various forms of taxation and insurance; financial products and services; road regulations and laws; specialist policing; accident investigation; surveillance and traffic-law infringement technology; vehicle crash and breakdown recovery equipment and services; crash repair services and the creation of specialist ambulance and trauma medicine services.”

We drive to our food, cash, medicine, and so many other consumer events. We drive to work, to church, to see family and friends, to keep in touch with the world. Driving an automobile is so ingrained in our behavior, it defines our culture.

It has become clear that the ICE has also generated an unsustainable increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. We ignore scientific warnings at our peril.

These paintings represent some of the architecture of car culture, some of the ways we have designed and engineered expediency and efficacy for the use of the ICE . Car culture is the history of anyone living today, and we all have our favorite songs and most memorable stories of our time behind the windshield. That there is beauty in these designs – the roads, the bridges, the motels and gas stations – draws me to paint them. That there is sorrow in their representation of destructive hubris, I can not deny.