These miniature oil paintings examine America’s relationship to translatio imperii, an antiquated idea that civilization is always carried forward by a single dominant power or people and that historical succession was a matter of "outward" movement. Historic media and military images of US bombings in foreign landscapes are painted in a manner of the American Hudson River Valley School, whose paintings were aesthetically reminiscent of colonial British and French landscape paintings and associated with Manifest Destiny. The paintings in Translatio Imperii extend this historical concept beyond American borders, to American military campaigns.

 

A black painted exterior reveals the shape of a brushstroke from one of Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke series, creating a window to the landscape painting underneath. Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke series acknowledged mid-century American Abstract Expressionism. During the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency used American Modern Art as a cultural weapon, fostering and promoting American Abstract Expressionism around the globe for more than 20 years. 

 

In a scale forgoing its modernist lineage, the miniature paintings examine the creation of the cultural canon of historical American painting, with the lens that has affected American military dominance in the world. Each painting lays encased inside an ornate vintage frame suggestive of frames that would adorn the historic grand American and European landscapes. The frames are painted black, with a brass title plate identifying each painting with the etched name of the country and year of the bombing.