Jason Middlebrook explores the contradictory relationship between nature and human consumption. His works are colorful and linear, earthy and organic. Middlebrook often sources his materials directly from the environment, recycling wood or reconfiguring manmade products into large-scale forms modeled after those found in the natural world. For example, Underlife, which is currently installed on the museum’s campus, resembles an uprooted tree stump. In Maggots on a Steak, a row of pine trees extends into an urban grid of twinkling lights that fade into a dark horizon. Although this image initially appears romantic, a blighted landscape appears in the foreground, far beneath the vibrant strata of the terrain. The work’s title references the ability of larva to feed off their environment and suggests that this visionary landscape should be read simultaneously as an image of extinction and rebirth.
Label from Drawing: The Beginning of Everything, July 8–October 15, 2017