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A Descent into the Maelström


I miss traveling. I miss telling stories about traveling. I think it’s time to start doing that again.


Those of you who have been my friend for the last years know I used to regularly post patron art boxes in order to finance my residencies abroad: Greenland, Svalbard, Lucca, Rome, the Sonoran desert. The deal was always: help me out, and in return you will get artwork and probably some other additional goodies, and the catch was you didn’t really know what the hell you would get until a box landed in your mailbox. Clearly, some of you like living on the edge.


Last year I discovered, and became obsessed with, a story by Edgar Allen Poe which is set in Norway, of all places. A Descent into the Maelström is a dramatic short story set in Northern Norway. Poe never set foot in Norway, but he was clearly familiar with Moskenstraumen, or the Mosken Whirlpool, at the southern tip of the Lofoten archipelago. One of the strongest whirlpools in the world, it is featured in ancient maps back to the 1500s (and on the Carta Marina, see illustration, which is where I first saw it while working on my book Nansen's Passport), and representations of it are pretty terrifying. Though the Mosken whirlpool today is pretty fascinating as a natural occurrence, Poe’s short story elevated it to a new level of fear in his short story, where a man, visibly aged by his terrifying, near-drowning experience, tells a younger man the story of his descent and escape. While the man lets go of his ship and hangs on to smaller objects in order to rise to the surface of the ocean again and survive his ordeal, I see a perfect allegory for facing life in a post-pandemic, rapidly-changing world. This will be the subject of my next artist book, to be published in 2023. But I need to get up there onto the whirlpool first, this July 2022.


So to those of you (you know who you are) who complain that my paintings are too expensive for you, and my paper flowers are out of reach — do I have a deal for you. For a price considerably lower than I usually sell artwork and flowers, you will get both. I can only sell a limited number of these boxes, since too many becomes too much work for me, but enough that it takes the edge off the considerable expense of making the journey north. You will receive an oil painting sketch for A Descent into the Maelström (really, a piece of the making of the book), as well as a paper flower based on local flora—and I always sweeten the deal with some chocolate, so not all is lost. And Norway has great chocolate.


Once again, you don’t know what the hell you’re getting, but that’s life, isn’t it? Boxes will be sent out September of 2022 at the very latest. I hope to take you on this trip with me. 

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