The Kinetic and Potential Energies of the Four Seasons

Illustration series created fall 2012 – summer 2013

In this series, I express the "seasons of myself" through environments specific to New England's four seasons and their energies. I capture evidence of the universe's continuous giving and taking, which is literal in terms of natural materials and metaphorical as it relates to human experience.

Each piece is a time-specific scene captured using a cell phone camera, and then painted in acrylic on canvas. The series documents my first year living outside the constructs of academic time (September 2012 – September 2013), in which I was adapting to life as an adult and especially perceptive to the changing seasons.

This exploration is rooted in my reactions to season change: I have always felt uneasy during the cold dip from summer to fall that occurs around late September in Massachusetts. Yet once winter begins to settle in around late November, I dislike the cold temperature but find calmness in the stabilization of energy. In the fall, there is an overhaul of the old in preparation for creation of the new, all of which begins to steep during the dead of winter. Winter is a season of great potential energy: leaves settle and decay, snow sinks as water into the ground, animals and people are in different forms of hibernations. Springtime has an upward swing of active (or kinetic) energy- temperatures rise, plants grow upward, people and other animals begin to move more; all of these changes begin to stabilize to the hazy stillness of summer. While summertime is a state of nature in full expression, all energy has been spent and it can only go downward.

In thinking about these trends, I imagined the four seasons on a graph of energy vs. time to explore my like and dislike of different times of the solar year (see illustrations below). While this cycle refers to the timespan of a year, and the course of my experiential year roughly aligned with the solar year, the stages of the solar year can be imagined in examining the course of any significant experience. This process of abstraction can relate a seemingly complex experience back to the simple orbiting of the Earth around the sun, represented here as a cosine wave function.

The paintings focus on indications of the shifts of energy especially specific to cities (e.g. melting of snow faster on asphalt than on grass in a public park). I painted scenes which contain elements of energetic changes which matched my emotions and experiences at the time I was capturing the images. Examples of themes which occur include the shedding of old emotions (dead leaves) or short-lived good fortune (spring petals), the freshness of experience (snow), and the potential for something new to be uncovered (frozen surfaces). Fall and winter are particularly poignant because the conditions speak more specifically to the New England climate.

Another layer of this project is the idea of the "urban pastoral". Many of these scenes have a resemblance to rural scenes, even though all of them are in the city. This is a reoccuring interest of mine, which was also investigated thoroughly in my previous research on urban landscapes.

This series made its debut at the first Boston New Music and Art Series event on August 23, 2013 (see Groupmuse website). The Boston New Music and Art Series was founded by Alexandra Rinn, a student of musical composition at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University.

Please e-mail me if you are interested in high-resolution prints/files, or if you have an exhibition opportunity for this project.