Doug Russell is a visual artist who lives and works in Laramie, Wyoming. His work in drawing and painting explores two major creative directions: entangled natural forms and monumental architectural compositions. Both bodies of work ultimately are improvisational meditations upon structure/repetition/variation and germination/growth/decay. He currently holds the position of Associate Professor of Art at the University of Wyoming where is coordinator of the drawing program.
Artist Statement I build imagined, improvised and invented realities which grow out of my love of direct observational drawing and a fascination with the universal cycle of germination, growth, expansion, overcrowding, decay, and renewal.
This meditation upon the cycles of manmade construction and natural decay stems from my two year experience living in Turkey, a country to which I still return and explore every other summer with my students. In Turkey there is an overwhelming and immense wealth of ruin and renewal. Anatolia has seen numerous civilizations wash across its soil from the Etruscans, Hittites and Greeks, to the Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans. Each laid down its foundations upon the previous obscuring, revealing, destroying and reusing whatever came before. Today the dense and layered landscape that remains bears physical witness to this epic ebb and flow of each generations hopes and desires, failings and limitations. As each civilization rose and fell, it echoed a grander and more universal pattern expending immense energy to create and maintain an ordered reality, succumbing to inevitable collapse and decay, and ultimately giving way to unknown future empires.
In the Empire and Edifice series of drawings, I explored a spontaneous and unrehearsed approach, building images of invented elemental forms of monumental architecture simultaneously coming into and fading from existence. This process often continued to a point where the image eroded to leave only vestiges of the initial form. In the Empire series the drawings usually resolved themselves within a day, while the Edifice drawings took nearly seven years to develop into their final states. In the ongoing Ebb and Flow series, individual architectural forms are multiplied and piled on top of each other, growing like impossible cities living and dying, expanding and disappearing.