Aron Johnston, The Crucible, 2019

Johnston is one of us narrative painters here in the Portland area and is showing this painting in our upcoming exhibition Understanding Ourselves at the Chehalem Cultural Center, opening Feb 2nd.

One definition of ‘crucible’ is a severe, searching test; one that forces you to change. It pains Johnston to think about our children being forced to deal with the effects of generations of environmental abuse. He states “The nest represents a place of safety for the young, or home, and the fire is destroying it, as it is destroying the environment (our home) in which the boy stands. The degraded environment is testing the next generation already.”

The mountain in the background is Mt. Washington, by Santiam Pass. Now it looks very much like the painting; all burned up. Remarkably, this prophetic vision was painted a year before the deadly fires this past summer.

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