Nuclear Power

Uraninite, Acrylic on Canvas, 30″ x 30″, 2018

So why am I writing and painting about this topic? For many years I have been making art reflecting my concern about man-made climate and land destruction. In the past I painted a series about the Iraq war; the melting of ice; and the dire plastic pollution saturation. Then one day, seemingly out of the blue, I had the clear inspiration to confront my worries about nuclear radioactivity… something I knew very little about. As luck would have it, I fractured my leg and knee by slipping on water and was bed ridden for four months. Aha! Now I knew an opportunity presented itself whereby I had time to do research and paint about things nuclear. I began with a series of drawings and paintings about the March 11, 2011, triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plants in Japan. I was very upset about that dire situation. The massive spread of radioactive pollution, blatant governmental cover-up, and suffering caused by the displacement of thousands of people resulted in untold misery even to this day.

Do we need nuclear power plants as the answer to combatting global warming? I do not think they are the solution. Why not? Here are some of the reasons. Basically the 674 nuclear reactors in the world operate with huge financial losses. “Nuclear is still at least 2.5 times the cost of wind and solar”. (Beyond Nuclear International, September 1, 2019). The plants can only function if they are, to a very large extent, subsidized. The waste disposal from these plants presents unsolvable problems. Nuclear accidents cause unimaginable amount of human suffering as well as destruction. Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Director has stated: “the history of nuclear power is seven decades of economic ruin and environmental catastrophe”. Radioactivity is incontestably dangerous. Further, one motivation to build nuclear power plants is the covert development of nuclear weaponry, according to Beyond Nuclear International. Then there is ever present the danger ofterrorism connected with nuclear explosions.

After working on that series for more than a year I needed to take a break from the topic. That time-out did not last long because I realized I could just not sit on my hands and that I had to use my artist’s voice to try to inform about the dangers created by all aspects of nuclear power plant production. I was also deeply upset by the administration’s decision to resume uranium mining near our national parks. I got down to basics and began to paint my interpretations of the most dangerous metal on earth–uranium ore. We all know that uranium is a naturally occurring heavy metal and that it has most unusual properties. The energy generated by the natural breakdown of radioactive elements is immense and it is used in nuclear reactors. (Australian Government—Geoscience Australia) After doing a number of paintings on paper and canvas of uranium rocks (which incidentally were based only on photographs), I decided to incorporate plastic mannequin heads as surfaces onto which I continued my work. These heads became like 3-D canvases. I felt they offer a more intimate portrayal of uranium rocks as well as some effects of radioactivity on humans.

Yellow Mass of Platy Bergenite

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