My name is Zachary James Fleming-Boyles. I am an Artist and Art Educator living in the Coachella Valley. I have a B.A. in Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley and worked at the Palm Springs Art Museum for 8 years managing school and outreach programs for students in grades K-12. I currently teach printmaking and manage youth educational programs at CREATE Center for the Arts in Palm Desert.
Artist Statement Everywhere you look, things are changing. Change is inevitable. Entropy ensures nothing remains static. Permanence is an illusion. Time, the metric we use to measure change, marches forward at an unrelenting pace. And I worry…change is fast, growth is slow. Without some kind of anchor to ground us in the moment, will we be swept away in time’s turbulent flow? What evidence of our species will exist when the mountains have eroded away? Will our fossilized remains be dug up from the bowels of the planet and rendered into fuel for the next intelligent life-form to destroy itself with?
I don’t know. I just paint cactuses, but taking into account the always evolving dynamics of our universe, I think stillness is underrated. In an age of constant connection where things feel like they move too fast, the solitary act of painting has been a means to resist the torrential passage of time by carving out an imagined space where “a moment” can be stretched into “an eternity.” My paintings are windows into scenes dominated by stillness.
Likewise, I think boredom is underappreciated. Boredom, and the daydreaming that comes from it, feeds imagination and creativity, two aspects of our consciousness for which growth is jeopardized in a society that demands our constant attention. We no longer allow ourselves to feel bored. We don’t permit our minds to wander, or contemplate the mundane. Time is a precious commodity not to be wasted. Every waking moment must be “occupied” with the pursuit of productivity and the insatiable consumption of the spectacle that is our ever changing world. It is exhausting.
I believe art is the anchor on which one can cling to for moments of internal respite from the chaotic circumstances that surround us. It transports us to the timeless realm of the imagination. It allows us to tap into some ancestral compulsion that resists the entropic forces that threaten the order of our existence. It allows us to create meaning where none is to be found in a seemingly irrational universe indifferent to human suffering. It grants us an opportunity to grow along with the changes we witness, permitting individuals to define their own purpose in life.
The cactus is a recurring motif in my paintings, a symbol for the resilience of life and its capacity to adapt to the existential threats that endanger it. Despite their rather grotesque appearance and repulsive evolutionary design that offends our mammalian sensibilities, I consider the cactus to be a beautiful organism for the adaptations that allow it to thrive in environments otherwise considered inhospitable. I see the cactus as a living sculpture formed by earth, water, light and time. It is a subject deserving of attention that allows me to formally investigate the use of balance, repetition, and rhythm to build complex structures out of simple shapes and patterns.
It is my hope that through my art people will make a conscious effort to slow down, observe the natural world, and learn to appreciate the mundane, yet beautiful aspects of life we often fail to take notice of due to the distractions of a rapidly changing world.