Understory

2007, Oil paint and alkyd on canvas over panel

Understory shows the middle level of a prototypic tropical rainforest. The species of flowering tree that provides the underlying structure for this painting has branches that grow in an unusual pattern of alternating Vs off the main trunk. This pattern is reminiscent of the diagrams known as cladograms—from the Greek word for “branch”—that are used to sort species into phylogenic or taxonomic order. The array and number of birds and animals depicted invokes the crowding of more and more of our biodiversity into smaller and smaller plots of uninhabited land.