Gouache on archival digital print/ Hahnemühle paper.

The automobile and all of its wheeled cousins transformed the 20th century; their role in the 21st gets more complicated. Once offering mobility, status and power, their incessant and increasing need for oil has created gridlock, corporate and manufacturing crises, and dependencies that threaten personal and national autonomy, world peace and the environment.  The U.S. Department of Defense is the single largest domestic consumer of petroleum, feeding earth and air bound machines that are instrumental in conducting military operations around the world.* Away from war, the private cocoons of civilian cars still prevail over mass transit, further exhausting resources.  These conditions drive global politics and hasten ecological catastrophe.

Benign or malignant, machines on wheels can be seen as both emblems and enforcers of "freedom.”   They can appeal to our sense of leisure and luxury, perform functionally or instill fear. Seductive and destructive, vehicles have become favored as both weapons and targets of those who have chosen violence as a means to an end. Cars, Humvees, Strykers, tanks, and jeeps have come to embody the machismo that both feeds and entraps so many abuses of power.

*Presentation by American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Red Cavaney held at the USAF/API Awards Banquet – Arlington, Virginia, July 15, 2004. See also National Defense Magazine article in 2002.