" The human problem, then is as yet solved in the United States most imperfectly; a great void exists in the civilization over there; a want of what is elevated and beautiful, of what is interesting."
Mathew Arnold, from' Civilization in the United States'
The American aesthetic, like the American religion, is obsessed with innocence. Opposed to other religion's promises of immortality connected pragmatically to a forward looking aesthetic, the American religion promises what Hart Crane called "an improved infancy" and should be expected to produce little in the way of cultivation. When we demand newness, solitude, and sterility, and civilization is equated with European age, our art works can be judged only on their own merits and our art forms will continue to atomize us.
I believe much of the violence, anxiety, and cynicism in modern America stems primarily from a failure of culture and only secondarily from social, economic, or political problems. When we spend our entire lives surrounded by what is mean, unconnected, and disposable, our interior psyches become likewise fractured and uninspired. Particularly unconvincing in American art and architecture is an absence of human and humanizing themes and forms. The box cities we live and work in and the public spaces we inhabit or move though give us nothing to connect to and nothing to aspire towards. They say to us only " work! " or "consume!" If we can create spaces for gathering in mutual inspiration to behold objects for projection and reflection we will give evidence to what is now going unsung in the human animal.
These concerns and aspirations are the engine and content of my paintings. I paint the time and place I find myself in; a religiously mad country whose idols are self-reliance, freedom from time, nature, and others, and a national triumphalism with a fallout particularly among the embittered young who can't legitimize the societies institutions and expectations. My paintings center on the causes and products of the aesthetic wasteland I wish them to help transcend.
- Micheal Lierly