I go away from the birch tree as a source of imagery again and again, but I seem always to come back to it. I suppose its pull for me is both formal and symbolic. Formally, as a painter, birch trees and birch bark enable me to make big abstract paintings that also happen to look like something - and I like to think that gives all kinds of viewers a "handle" to deal with all that paint and color on the canvas. But the birch tree, especially the paper birch that we see in Alaska and throughout the North, is also just one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I continue to be astounded by the richness, variety, and frequent delicacy of color and surface in this tree that thrives in such a harsh climate and is so often thought of as merely black-and-white. In that way, it's come to symbolize for me the subarctic North which I've learned to identify so strongly as my home..."