Creative expression through narrative storytelling can be a powerful platform for fighting oppression and breaking the silence of indifference. Few artists are willing to go against the grain and push their narratives to the edge of humanity. They fear rejection or that galleries and collectors only want safe beautiful paintings that are complacent and not visually challenging to their audience. So, for the fear of shocking the public or upsetting the viewer most relevant masterpieces in traditional realism portraying the human condition and the devastation of our natural world can only be seen in museums and a few various gallery platforms that are willing to take a risk. As an agent of change and educator it becomes even more difficult to find galleries willing to exhibit such work or listen to lectures on real issues that matter.

People always ask why a majority of my work centers on birth, love and death. I guess the answer would be it helps me understand the impermanence of life on this planet. The time for empathy is now. 2020 has been filled with enormous challenges from the pandemic health crisis to civil unrest in the United States which is grappling with a long legacy of racism and injustice. Our planet is facing dual climate and nature crises that threaten life as we know it. Seeing it in the city that I live in as well as the backcountry that I hike, camp and explore is devastating. I have journaled, sketched and witnessed firsthand the pollution, logging, pesticides and death of our pollinators. Traveling through little towns and large cities across he United States and Europe has given me an entirely new perspective of how far off we are as humans. People are looking for normal and don’t fully comprehend the challenges that are presented before us. It is time to slow down and stop worrying about corporate profits and start worry about the preservation of our natural world and how we will keep it safe for generations to come.

The future depends on our action to right the wrongs of apathy and greed. This world can be turbulent and beautiful, filled with deep shadows and brilliant light. Finding the light is a way forward because living in the shadow of fear is no way to live. When no one heeds the warnings from scientists and painters it is the time to rise up. Activists, scientists and artists turn from research to advocacy to civil disobedience. Over the years I have learned a lot from my friends Tom Mangelsen and Jane Goodall. They have not only inspired me but served as a guide of the right way to pay it forward in life. 

Humans need to wake up and stop putting their economic gains in front of conservation. Species of insects are being wiped out and colonies of bees decimated. There are over 16,000 know species of bees and most people only know the honeybee. In North America there are 4000 species of bees that are solitary, stingless and burrow in the ground. Almost 50 % of the Midwestern native bees have disappeared. In the heartland that I live our bees are dying and people turn a blind eye. My orchard bees, furrow bees, tickle bees, blueberry bees and squash bees are going extinct from lawn chemicals and well-groomed suburban yards. These cookie cutter homes with their fake glowing chemical lawns have killed our pollinators with the neonicotinoid pesticides. The insects have nowhere to hide, burrow or raise their brood. The fake facade lawns thrive on their non-flowering grass and pollen-less flowers. They are as lifeless and indifferent as their owners. Round up and fucking Monsanto have ruined our pollinators and devastated their habitats. The runoff from big agriculture has left our drinking water poisoned and undrinkable in the midwest. 

My work does not sugarcoat, prettifying or embellishing the human condition and instead exposed its darkest realities understanding that our world contains beauty, but it also contains pain, suffering and cruelty. I find it even more odd that in today’s world that we live that we do not see more artwork showing the timeless archetypes of pathos and ethos. We are living in the time of a pandemic. Climate change, wars, genocide, poverty, and famine have engulfed the globe. It is not all gloom and doom but to act like it doesn’t exist or indifferent makes the ingratiation even worse. Wake up!

-Jeremy Caniglia