Neil Tetkowski Exhibits Oil & Water Series in Siena, Italy



Neil Tetkowski is the Gallery Director at Kean University. Neil’s early years were spent in Siena, Italy where he went to grammar school for several years. Both parents were in the arts providing an early foundation for what would become a lifetime passion for creativity, education and a fascination with diverse cultures of the world. Neil was asked to exhibit his Oil & Water show in Siena during the summer of 2011. 



by Neil Tetkowski


For millions of years, oil and water have quietly coexisted. However, that all changed as humans got industrious and began to alter the Earth. People mixed our natural resources and shook things up. Stretch your imagination and one could say that the modern economy is a 21st Century environmental smoothie. When you blend seven billion people into the global equation, we wind up with a stressed ecosystem and an economy that is leaving more and more people behind. Everyone knows, this accelerated sort of “progress” is not sustainable. And in spite of our best intentions, it is a simple fact that oil and water do not mix.


Arguably oil and water are two of the most sought after resources in the world. Water often marks national boundaries and the control of oil equals power. Life as we know it today depends both on oil and water, and ever increasing demand seems to influence each global news story.


Politicians and businessmen jockey for control of oil fields while armies position themselves for the next strategic war. Although water is an essential ingredient for life, oil is truly death. It is a form of carbon that is left behind from past lives that ended ages ago. 


It is a funny concept to think that the transformed remains of dead organisms from millions of years ago have become our most essential energy commodity.


Perhaps oil and water can no longer peacefully get along with each other. Metaphorically, the idea resonates. Water is yin and oil is yang. Water represents regeneration, while oil is toxic. Immerse yourself in water, but beware when your skin is in contact with oil. To sustain life, we need to drink water everyday, but beware of noxious petroleum fumes. Caution is advised when you are surrounded by exhaust and smoke for it could poison you to death.


People like to look at water and will pay a high price for waterfront property. The same people would never want a home that overlooks an oil field. God forbid that an oil slick would land on their beach. After all, one should enjoy water. Oil on the other hand is something you keep out of sight. It is wealth, it is power, it is an investment, it is a commodity for speculation, it is a fuel to burn. Our tumultuous love affair with oil is harshly in conflict with the universal need for clean, peaceful water.

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