A God In The Hearth: a Visual Essay on Fire and Fossil Fuels with David Carmack Lewis

Exhibit dates: July 13 – August 20, 2017

Reflecting on the “coal versus clean energy” topic, paintings of fire, engines and power plants illustrate heated discussion.

  • Reception and CAW: Thursday July 20, 4–8 pm (reception starts 5:30 pm)
  • Brown Bag Art Talk: Thursday, July 27, 12 noon
  • Panel discussion on the subject of the exhibit: Saturday, July 22, 12 noon (The Arts Center) Details Below
  • Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, noon – 5 PM, The Arts Center will be 0pen on Sunday, August 20 and closed on August 21.

A God in the Hearth: a Visual Essay on Fire and Fossil Fuels, paintings by David Carmack Lewis explore the deep human connection to fire and how its use transforms landscapes and now the climate itself.

A God In The Hearth: a Visual Essay on Fire and Fossil Fuels is an exhibit of work by Portland painter David Carmack Lewis and will be on display July 13 – August 21, 2017 at  The Arts Center.

Lewis has always been intrigued by fire, but places the topic in this body of work in a particular context. He explores the deep human connection to fire and how its use transforms landscapes and now the climate itself. Through his work Lewis hopes to engage the community on the issues of fossil fuels, climate change, and how art and science can work together to promote education and change.

PANEL DISCUSSION, Sat. July 22, 12 noon: To enhance engagement and give the community an opportunity to participate in the discussion, Lewis invited panelists to join him in a discussion at The Arts Center:  Michael P. Nelson and Meg Krawchuk from OSU College of Forestry (environmental ethics, fire ecology, Landscape Fire and Conservation Science Research Group, Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, OSU), and Will Novy-Hildesley, executive director of the North American Forest Partnership. 

Carmack Lewis describes in his own words:

“The paintings in this exhibition explore humanity’s deep connection to fire and its impact on the planet. Without fire we would not exist. Using fire we became like it, sweeping across landscapes and transforming them utterly. The hearth fire has always been at the center of human existence providing light, warmth and nourishment. But now our hearths are largely hidden in the form of engines and power plants. Instead of wood they burn fossil fuels. These hidden hearths and their hidden fires are changing the earth’s climate. These paintings draw attention to the similarities and differences between our modern hidden hearths and their traditional counterparts and the consequences of not seeing what we burn. Most of humanity’s energy and activity is still generated by fire. If we recognize this fact we may begin to realize that the earth is currently engulfed in flame.

My art has always been driven by narrative, employing traditional approaches to painting and representation in order to mine the familiar for novel metaphors. In 1839 the french artist Paul Delaroche declared, “…painting is dead.” Similar claims have been made for representation and even narrative itself. Fortunately for me new modes of expression do not actually destroy old ones. Instead, the old forms continue to find new ways to ask the oldest questions. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? My earlier work suggested stories that one reviewer described as having “the flavor of ancient folk tales”. That description appealed to me because I see my art as a search for myth. Myth communicates meaning in narrative terms using metaphor as its language. It is through narrative and metaphor, the oldest tools of art, that we both comprehend and create the new.

My current work is also informed by both science and journalism, relying as much on documentation as artistic interpretation to tell stories at the crossroads of science and human values. In it I describe, document and mythologize a fundamental narrative of the anthropocene, that includes our creation by use of fire, the temptations of fossil fuels and our search for environmental redemption.”

A short video with comments about the show:

Visit David’s website here


Many thanks to the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition for their support of this exhibit!

Corvallis sustainable coalition