Nirvana: Ecological Meditations by Ian Boyden

Anderson Foundation for the Arts

1111 Abadie St.

Walla Walla, WA 99362

February 27 – May 31, 2015

Opening Reception: February 27, 5-7 pm


Press Release:


Nirvana presents three monumental works that reflect my recent ecological explorations, in particular our relationship to carbon. The title work of the exhibition, Nirvana, is an installation of carbon-based photographs of the charred remains of the Tripod Complex Fire that consumed 180,000 acres of forest in north-central Washington in 2006. The second work, Amorphous, is a single monumental painting five years in the making—a field of elemental carbon. The primary pigment used in Amorphous is amorphous carbon gathered from the Tripod Complex Fire, as well as soot from the chimney of his house, the smoke of ancient Chinese pine trees, and the dust of carbonaceous meteorites older than our sun. The third work, Dire Human, presents a wall of self-portraits facing the single skull of a dire wolf. The dire wolf went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene, roughly 10,000 years ago. Its remains have been primarily found in the La Brea tar pits, where the wolves became trapped in the pools of sticky asphaltum bubbling up from deep within the ground. Unable to free themselves from the tenacious grasp of petroleum, they died, their bones preserved in the carbonaceous liquid. These extinct wolves can be understood as a symbol of our own inability to extricate ourselves from oil dependency.

Dire Human, basalt, concrete, steel, resin, and moss. 2012-2015. 60 x 190 inches.


The Nirvana Scrolls, 2015. Carbon on paper, entire finished work 81 x 480 inches.

Amorphous, 2009–2014, carbon on canvas, 9 x 14 feet.

Ian Boyden discussing the carbon density of The Nirvana Scrolls




Ian Boyden binding The Nirvana Scrolls




Invitation card for "Nirvana."





The Nirvana Scrolls, 83 x 468 inches, 2015




Nirvana Scroll, No. 1, 83 x 44 inches, 2015


Jay Anderson delivering a pallet of self-portraits in preparation for the assembly of Dire Human


Installing Dire Human, 5 x 14 feet, 2015



Installing Dire Human, 5 x 14 feet, 2015


Dire Human, 5 x 14 feet, 2015


Mark Anderson looking at Amorphous, carbon on canvas, 9 x 14 feet.


Half of The Nirvana Scrolls to the left; and Amorphous to the right.


Constellations of Humanity

Each luminous dot on this map represents one reader of this poem. As the number of readers increases, the stars begin to cluster and form an increasingly detailed constellation. My intent is to show how brightly a poem glows across our world. I welcome your light.

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