I was remembering the shocking cheerfulness with which the sun shone on the ruins of my life after the house fire in 1986, as if it hadn't noticed at all. In the end that constancy brings comfort; in the immediate aftermath of the storm it only serves to emphasize our personal helplessness, insignificance and vulnerability.

Banda Aceh is the Indonesian provincial capital that was most extensively damaged in the 2004 Christmastime tsunami.
The Lower Ninth Ward is one of the poorest sections of New Orleans, still flat and aching and empty a year after Hurricane Katrina.

Alyssa Peterson was the third female soldier to die in the American occupation of Iraq (2003). Only three years later did the circumstances of her death "come to light": She was a gifted language student, attending University on a military scholarship and easily mastering several languages. When it came time to fulfill her military obligation, she was trained and sent to Iraq as a translator for interrogations. After only two days of this service she requested a transfer to guard duty, citing her unease with the techniques used. One day later she committed suicide, apparently unable to find her way through the terrible darkness brought to her through the brilliant light of language.

The thread of orange in the dark blood-soaked landscape is the empty light of fluorescent tape: the entirely ineffective attempt by authorities to contain devastation by defining it.

In The Garden: The Cruelty of Oblivious Sunshine (for Banda Aceh, the Lower Ninth Ward, and U.S. Army Spc. Alyssa Peterson)
(2006) 65 cm x 75 cm (Oil on paper, mounted on board)

In The Garden: The Cruelty of Oblivious Sunshine