Chester Arnold Art Critique
09 September 2010
As depicted at the Nevada Museum of Art I saw that any of Chester Arnold's artworks show littered landscapes and garbage-dump landfill grounds with bits and pieces of trash, treasure, paper, plastic, and a recurring right boot, but the one painting that really got to me was The Digger, which has little of this.
The Digger is a bleak depiction of a man who has apparently spent a great deal of effort and time clearing a small patch of trees only to be left with a clearing filled with tombstone-esqe tree-stumps. Granted, Arnold's playful trash is present, just not as eminent, as it is isolated to three or four pieces; a wrench here, a tire there, even an empty can of coke as I recall.
Finally, it shows the man sitting remorsefully over a grave-like hole that he has obviously dug for himself. This shows his feelings on what he has just done, and that he feels like he has killed the natural beauty surrounding him. Though he may argue that, “it was for the best” or that “it was the economical thing to do” he cannot escape the impending feeling of doom for he has been left with nothingness. It has been said that when you stare into the nothingness, the nothingness stares right back at you, forcing you to question yourself.
I felt strong pangs of cynicism creeping over me as I walked through the gallery devoted to Arnold, though he often made an effort to include playful or at least satirical notions, The Digger had none of these. The Digger displays exactly what I see for the human race. We will inevitable destroy all things beauty, all things human, and all things life on our earth, and there is nothing we can do about it. The sooner we accept our fate (be that through digging our own graves, or living out our lives deliberately), the sooner we can come to enjoy what it is we still have left. We must appreciate the here and now, we must appreciate what he all have right now. The laws of life and nature dictate that nothing is permanent, so we mustn't treat anything as such. We must awake in the morning and take advantage of the day, rather than wishing for something to come along that likely never will. This is what I thought Chester Arnold was attempting to convey.