“Beautiful Extinction” & “Seneca Constellations” – Bruce Zaretsky
Feb. 2 – March 1, 2022
Location: The Little Theatre Cafe
Reception: No reception this month
Hours: Cafe Open Hours (see thelittle.org)
Beautiful Extinction was born when I noticed how beautiful the sunsets were during an outbreak of wildfires across the United States. These fires, along with the far-reaching smoke and soot, created magically colored skies of reds and oranges and purples over the course of weeks. It got me thinking how even the act of destruction can be beautiful. Wildfires burning down forests. Floods inundating cities. Smoke from pollution and wildfires creating gorgeous sunsets. These all have a special beauty, even as they are destroying.
Many of these events are becoming more common as humans continue to contribute to climate change. We humans are steadily creating a scenario where our species will itself become extinct. So this beauty, while it will still exist, will not be observed by us. Our actions have already contributed to the demise of countless other species.
And many more extinctions are on the horizon. Beautiful Extinction also acknowledges the imminent extinction of so many beautiful life forms, from coral reefs to White Rhinos to Amur Tigers, along many others, due to climate change, forest destruction, acidifying oceans and, most despicable, poaching of animals for their fur, horns and tusks. These animals are Beautiful. And many are on the cusp of Extinction. Even if we cannot, or are not willing to, slow or reverse the effect we’re having on the planet and its life, we can acknowledge our responsibility for the loss of so many beautiful species.
When you leave the cafe tonight, look around: you’re standing on the ancestral lands of the Seneca Native American people. This region is their home. The largest group of the Iroquois Confederacy, there are eight clans of the Seneca: Wolf, Bear, Snipe, Eagle, Deer, Turtle, Beaver and Heron. Then look up: our planet is a mere speck in a universe of mind-boggling beauty and diversity. The Hubble Space Telescope has opened up the vastness of the universe and its beauty to us tiny earthlings.
These paintings are a combination of my love of all things space, with its amazing galaxies and nebulae, among other wonders, and my deep respect for the native peoples of America, particularly our local brothers and sisters of the Seneca. I’ve invented a constellation for each clan and superimposed it with a galaxy, nebula or other deep space object from photos taken with the Hubble.