But Thou Didst Bring Me Up Alive


But Thou Didst Bring Me Up Alive


My piece “But Thou Didst Bring Me Up Alive” is part of a general series of works of mine that employs the motif of a schematic rendering of geological layers. I’ve always been fascinated by geology in general and how the earth has been formed. As an artist I am also interested in schematic rendering or a diagrammatic language as a way of “picturing” things that we might not be able to literally see. For me there is a bonus with certain kinds of schematic renderings and in particular with diagramming geologic strata, how you can be free to really render each geologic layer whatever color, hue, pattern or shade strikes your fancy. It’s possible that actual geologists have a systematic approach to their color scheme choices, but I’m assuming that they really do not and my approach enables me to use this motif as an excuse to paint pretty stripes!

For me as an artist, beyond the overwhelming despair that I feel in contemplating the ecological destruction that resource extraction engenders, I see patterns. I look for patterns, motifs, codes, symbols, color alliances and any other linguistic gestures that humans manifest in their activities and machinations on this planet. After all everything we do has a bit of a logic, story or motivation behind it and we consistently develop a pageantry of laws, standing armies, documents and cultures that justify the never ending claims we make over these ever diminishing resources. For me this pageantry overlaps patterns that might exist in nature or the natural world, which we conveniently find meaning in, in order to accommodate our desires and needs. When we do this I view these endless motifs that we create as being transparent. In other words, we don’t really see the red, white and blue in our American flag as just the colors that they are, rather we see through them and attach a complex history, story and alliance to those colors. My job as an artist is to view things opaquely, to see colors, forms and patterns as colors, forms and patterns.

My intent then, as an artist, is to approach issues like resource extraction and render a picture or an arrangement of colors and patterns, which emerge from our “transparent” understanding of our relationship to such activities, as a more “opaque” depiction. Here then I can be both literal and imaginative at the same time and open up questions about relationships that otherwise might go unquestioned.

Kenny Cole
March 2022


Kenny Cole




30" x 22" gouache on paper



Kenny Cole, “But Thou Didst Bring Me Up Alive,” All of Belfast: Climate Dialogues, accessed July 3, 2022, https://abcdbelfast.omeka.net/items/show/63.

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