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Oratorio at the End of a Black Rainbow


Oratorio at The End of a Black Rainbow, a site-specific work for Los Angeles International Airport
Terminal 1, Ground Floor, November 10, 2010 - April 6, 2011
Commissioned by Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports

gouache, graphite, 18K gold leaf, oil, dry pigment, beeswax on canvas
left panel: 27'2" x 9'6"
right panel 28'6" x 9'6"

The term “oratorio” is derived from the Latin “orare”, meaning “to speak” or “to entreat” and can connote different things. Similarly, many parallels are contained in the conception and creation of this art installation. An oratorio most often refers to a large-scale musical composition recalling a weighty event or concept. From Haydn’s classical "The Creation" oratorio to Paul McCartney’s loosely autobiographical "Liverpool Oratorio", the dramatic, lengthy narrative structure is closely related to opera. Less commonly, oratorio refers to a space built for reflection and meditation, a prayer hall where communities or individuals can gather in a focused place of watching, waiting and listening. As part of the title for this art installation, I chose the term oratorio in reference to its dual meaning as both impassioned performance and a somber place.

Resembling a Rorshach inkblot, the mirrored double-nature of this painting was inspired by the idea of making it for both a specific site (this Terminal 1 Arrivals waiting area) and an imagined site – the end of the fictitious black rainbow. For me, the conceptual idea of a black rainbow conjures up theoretical notions of blemish over beauty. A reversal of the symbol of hope, a black rainbow leads me toward questions about my involvement with the natural landscape, which seems both beautiful and broken in its ever-changing state.

I am interested in the imprint of culture on nature and vice-versa, in the way we shape our natural and built environments for good, or bad. It seems that beauty and ultimately meaning are lost or found in our own individual visions of the landscape and how we choose to engage in our environment.