Idaho Banners: An Exploration Into Iconic Plants, Animals, and Landscape of the High Desert and the Central Batholiths.
A while back I wrote about some of my flag designs with the interest of eventually changing the Idaho State flag. While this goal still stands; I used some of the first flag designs as a base for my most recent project: An attempt to depict/represent iconic regions of Idaho following design rules realized in the Sage Grouse tail and Pronghorn skull flags.
I now have six completed Idaho Banners, each one capturing and representing distinct regions of the state.
Left to right, going down: Banner for Northern Idaho's lakes and Idaho's Trout and Salmon - Banner for the lava flows of Hells Half Acre and Craters of the Moon - Banner for the Owyhee Canyonlands - Banner for the River of No Return Wilderness - (last two) Banners for the Snake River Plain / High Desert.
I am choosing to call this project complete, for now, while acknowledging Northern Idaho is not represented as much as the southern and central parts of the state. Perhaps at a later date I'll see it prudent to add more banners which are more specific to Northern Idaho.
I do not see these banners as pieces to hang on a wall or regular pieces of fine art. Their value isn't the actual piece of paper but the form itself. their true potential is to be used as signifiers of identity. Say if someone was raised in a city on the Snake River Plain they would have the Pronghorn, or Sage Grouse Tale flag on a favorite jacket: or if Someone loves to hike in the River of Not Return Wilderness, they would put that banner on the rear window of their car in the form of a vinyl decal.
A goal of mine was to make banners/designs people of Idaho can use to more accurately define themselves. I wanted to make banners people of Idaho can rally under.
A month ago I began asking people I found on Instagram if I could use their photographs as references for watercolor paintings. Since I just completed my goal of ten paintings I'd like to look back at the whole experience.
I chose people who took photos of the Intermountain or Pacific Northwest. I also looked for people who seemed open to exploring the avenues and routes their work created. I chose places which I had previously visited as well as places I have yet to physically experience. Every vantage point, however, was new to me. Initially I was afraid of rejection and apathy but generally I received enthusiastic responses and I met some very interesting people because of these paintings.
When painting the actual pieces I never wanted to make exact copies of the photograph. Not only would it have been futile, the work would capture far less nuance and intrigue. I saw the paintings and the whole project turn into collaborations with the photographers and with the landscape, as well.
From MRI scans we know that our brains light up differently when viewing paintings and photographs. Those studies and this project affirm to me painting and photography have unique places in our visual vocabulary. In my own art making I see these two mediums functioning as complements.
View all ten in my portfolio
Can art stand alone without any support? can art cut ties with the environment it was created in?
Not only do I think it's impossible to critique art in a vacuum, I also think it does everyone a disservice. I am not saying there isn't room to discuss an artwork's formal qualities: how the artist handled the brush, the quality of materials used. . . etc. I'm saying every work of art is fused with the environment it was created in and a critique will be greatly lacking if it does not acknowledge and include these connections.