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Carson C.T. Collins

I am not a realist. Nor am I an impressionist, a pointillist, a surrealist, a minimalist, or an abstract expressionist. Yet I assert that my work, at its best, functions within all of these disparate categories.

These are not paintings of objects. They are not souvenirs of places, and they do not tell stories. They do present a recognizible image, combined with an illusion of great depth. The image consists of the sea and sky. This is not the real, physical sea, but a

metaphor, and as such I propose that it is the most universal of all. The sea as life: the sea in our blood, the birth of life. The rocking of the waves, the cradle of life. The sea is the mother of all living things.The sea as life’s journey: adventure, danger, the crossing of the great water. The desire to go beyond, to leave the old world behind and discover something new and exotic; the call of the sea.The eroticism of the sea: it can be wild, pounding, violent and terrifying, or warm, bouyant, gentle in its swaying and lapping motions; the calm after the storm.The sea as death: fathomless, unknown, dark, infinite, into which all rivers, however long their windings, must flow, losing their identities as they merge with that which was their true source.The sea is ever-changing. Observe it closely, its forms and colors are in constant flux, it is never still, you cannot exhaust its infinite variety. And yet, it is always and profoundly the same; the sea as the passage of time and the persistence of memory.

Look at the paintings, not just a glance, spend some time at it. You are the figure that inhabits this eternal place. Notice how you feel. My hope in creating them was to create a meditative ambience, a profound and lucid calm. They are intended as a tonic for the human spirit.


Ten years have passed since I wrote this Statement. In the process of setting up my website I thought it might be appropriate to revise it, but having carefully considered the matter, I find that I really have no reason to change a single word. There are now some 250 paintings in the Ocean Series and the motif continues to fascinate me.

There is , however , something to be added which I think is important and indeed vital to the interest of every living creature on this planet. I have often been accused of being an artist without an “-ism” and have even heard my work condemned as merely decorative and without social relevance. Perhaps the information I am about to share with you will change all of that.

During the “Cold War” nuclear submarines of both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. operated in a similar fashion as did our long-range bomber aircraft. That is to say, they moved in patrol patterns which included a so-called “fail-safe” point. Once a sub had passed its fail-safe point, all communication with higher authority ceased and the sub’s crew continued to operate under rules of engagement which are still classified top secret.

The U.S. admits to the loss of six of our subs at locations beyond the fail-safe point, and the Russians admit to the loss of twelve of theirs. Thus we have a total of at least eighteen fully armed nuclear subs that are assumed to be badly damaged and resting on the ocean bed. The location, depth, and condition of these subs is apparently not known, nor does there seem to be any large-scale organized effort to find them.

The amount of plutonium in even one of these sunken subs, once the containment is breached, is more than sufficient to kill every living organism in the world’s oceans. This extinction will include the phytoplankton in the ocean’s upper layers which produces the majority of the oxygen in our atmlosphere. Plutonium is the most deadly of all known poisons, and it has been stated that the amount of plutonium that could be contained in a volume the size of an aspirin tablet, if evenly distributed, would be enough to kill every man, woman, and child on the face of the Earth. Which is not even relevant to our present dilemma, because once the phytoplankton is extinct and the oceans are dead we will all die of suffocation anyhow.

If you haven’t heard about this problem before, I’m sorry to have been the messenger. On the other hand, perhaps it isn’t too late to save the oceans and maybe you, gentle viewer, can contribute some action that may yet save the whole silly lot of us.

Which brings me back to the question of the social relevance, or lack thereof, of my paintings. Look at them again. They may yet become a monument to something that is already forever lost.

Carson C.T. Collins
December 2000

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