Great Plains

CIsgenic Crops - Robert Egert- 48

Cisgenia, Oil and pigmented glue on canvas, 48″ x 48″ 2017




Genetic Engineering

Just as the Green Revolution of the nineteen seventies drammatically boosted per acre food production, genetic modification of crop plants enables food scientists working in agriculture to create genetically modified plants with desirable attributes. This may be important when the effects of global warming alter the climate and impede agricultural production. CIsgenia is a form of genetic engineering used on crops that uses genes from within the base species vs. introducing genetic material from extrinsic species.  

Tornado Alley, oil painting by artist Robert Egert, a tribute to Lois Lenski and her regional and roundabout series of teen novels from the mid twentieth century. painted in 2017 as part of the Great Plains series. 48

Great Plains: Tornado Alley, Oil and pigmented glue on canvas, 48″ x 48″ 2017




The Conundrum

It’s a conundrum that in the Great Plains, where environment plays a bigger role in day to day life where it is more threatening and destructive, where climate change will have bigger impact, and where more people are dependent upon weather for their living, there’s less interest in environmental policy, and more skepticism of science.

Historical References

At first I looked at Thomas Hart Benton, John Sloan, Edward Hopper, and Reginald Marsh. But one of the most inspiring examples is Lois Lenski, a mid-century illustrator of children’s books. Lenski’s Regional and Roundabout Series (1947 – 1967) explored the lives of children and teens contrasting the lifestyles of the Southeast with the Midwest and New England. Lenski’s illustrations were typically executed in two colors—often red and black—which was a direct reference for this painting.The 2016 U.S. election elevated the great divide between coastal and central mindsets, exemplified by the divergent attitude toward nature and environment. 

Great Plains Monster, Oil and pigmented glue on canvas, 48″ x 48″ 2017



Hypdrocracker Emissions, oil on canvas, 48

Great Plains: Hydrocracker Emissions, oil on canvas, 48″ x 48″, 2017





The latest addition to the Great Plains series: Injection of chemically treated water into solid rock at high pressure fractures the substrata releasing gas suspended in the water. The water is extracted and the gas is separated, and transported for refinement and use as fuel. The residual wastewater is pumped into artifical ponds or sometimes reinfected into the ground. The holes drilled into the ground are lined but even small breaks in the lining can result in gaseous emissions into the atmosphere.  


Why the Great Plains

In 2015 – 2016 I began traveling to and driving around the great plains states for work. As a native New Yorker used to looking at the sky through the spaces between buildings, I was impressed by the expansive sky. Storms are visible at a great distance, often isolated as they travel across the horizon.

Spontaneously Occurring Airborne Clowns, Painting on paper, 18″ x 24″, 2017




Preparatory Work on Paper

These paintings on paper, part of the Great Plains series, is inspired by corn sweating, a phenomenon that occurs in corn growing regions of the US during high temperatures. The corn sucks moisture out of the ground and releases it into the atmosphere. There’s so much corn that it is believed to impact the overall humidity int he region.


Spontaneously Occurring Airborne Clowns, Painting on paper, 18″ x 24″, 2017