Miami, FL & Washington, D.C. based artist Noel Kassewitz   |   |   © 2017 Noel Kassewitz

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The Auroras (Aurora Borealis & Aurora Australis)

acrylic, dye, and bleach on handwoven canvas, found buoys, net floats, rope, inner tube

30” x 40” (surface of each, not including extensions), 2019


[In Private Collection]

The Auroras diptych was inspired by the seminal 1865 Aurora Borealis painting by Frederic Edwin Church. Painted while the Civil War was ravaging our nation, the spectacle of Auroras were commonly understood to be a visual sign of God’s displeasure with the war. Key compositional moments from his painting have been reinterpreted for contemporary times in the abstracted diptych by Kassewitz, who harnesses the mythical symbology of the polar auroras for our climate crisis.

Note that the peak of Mt. Church has been replaced by a triangular government issue flood symbol, the “dome of the sky” by the arc of the inner-tube projecting from the right side of the diptych, and the aurora itself has been referenced not in bold rich strokes of paint, but in washed out tones produced by selectively bleaching sections of the canvas and painstakingly stitching back in color.

Incorporated into this work are numerous found flotation objects:


  • Barnacle covered black buoys from the Pacific Northwest

  • Small terracotta colored net floats from the island of Crete in Mediterranean sea 

  • Weathered black and pink numbered crab floats from the Florida Keys

  • Found inner-tube from Lesvos, Greece, used by Syrian refugees crossing from Turkey