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Drill, Baby, Drill

"Drill, Baby, Drill" letterpress broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

Okay, I know the title is a bit controversial. But it was either that or something laden with obscenities—Jessica and I are feeling murderous less than charitable towards the oil industry at the moment. Thus far the Deepwater Horizon/British Petroleum oil “spill” (leak? deluge? hemorrhage?) has poured tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico—a fact that stopped us in our tracks, mid-way through a different piece, and changed our course for this season’s broadside.

I wish I could say this was a fun piece to create; dwelling on current events and spending days poring through images of oil-soaked animals has been one of the most depressing, enraging experiences I’ve had in my career. Luckily, I could spend the rest of my energy drawing the inspiring quote by writer, scientist and environmentalist Rachel Carson:

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the sun lines of the continents for untold thousands of year* … is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.”

(*not a typo, I promise.)

This is by far the longest quote we’ve tackled yet, and I needed convincing before I could justify the pins and needles I’d feel in my hand afterward. But along the way, it occurred to me that the quote reads like a poem—with a rhythm that opened up all kinds of image possibilities.

Detail of "Drill, Baby, Drill" letterpress broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

I couldn’t face the idea of drawing any of the oil spill’s destruction, so I chose instead to focus on the wildlife affected by the spill—including several already-endangered species—and create an image absolutely teeming with life. A manatee and dolphin play in deep ocean blue, while plovers dash by in a sandy gold that becomes the sickly tea-colored oil pouring from a hidden offshore rig (okay, so maybe a little of my anger found its way into the drawing). Baby sea turtles inch their way to the shore; a roseate spoonbill nests in a corner; a brown pelican sits, surveying the scene. How many creatures can you find?

Detail of "Drill, Baby, Drill" letterpress broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

One positive note that we can hold onto is the hope that we might make a bit of difference with our art. Our Dead Feminists have made their way to 40 states and 9 countries outside the U.S., so the word is definitely spreading. And we’ll be donating a portion of the proceeds from Drill, Baby, Drill to Oceana, an international organization focused on ocean conservation and dedicated to ending offshore drilling.

There. I said it. We want to ban offshore drilling outright. Forever.

I don’t mean to offend any readers on the other side of that particular fence (if any are left; sometimes I wonder if our series hasn’t already alienated half of the population…), but this is one issue around which I simply cannot tiptoe.

But then again, Rachel Carson wouldn’t have, either.

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Drill, Baby, Drill: No. 8 in the Dead Feminists series
Edition size: 136
Poster size: 10 x 18 inches

Printed on an antique Vandercook Universal One press, on archival, 100% rag paper. Each piece is hand-colored and signed by both artists.

Colophon reads:
Rachel Louise Carson (1907 – 1964) was born in rural Pennsylvania, where she was “happiest with wild birds and creatures as companions.” After majoring in science in college, Rachel won a fellowship at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole and pursued marine zoology at Johns Hopkins. Carson had a long career with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and wrote numerous books and articles, including Under the Sea-Wind, The Sea Around Us, The Sense of Wonder, and the best-seller Silent Spring, in which she warned an uninformed public about the dangerous overuse of chemicals like DDT. The book—reminding us of our critical part in nature and the potential to cause irreversible harm—launched the environmental movement that led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Endangered Species Act. Carson is memorialized with a National Wildlife Refuge in her name and a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Illustrated by Chandler O’Leary and printed by Jessica Spring, as oil pours into the Gulf Coast, leaving tar balls on the beaches and moving inland towards salt marshes. 136 copies were printed by hand at Springtide Press in Tacoma. June 2010

UPDATE: poster is sold out. Reproduction postcards available in the Dead Feminists shop!

Detail of "Drill, Baby, Drill" letterpress broadside by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

7 thoughts on “Drill, Baby, Drill

  1. Rachael Solem

    Dear Chandler,
    Thank you so much for this! I wish to order several prints to post at Irving House, Harding House, and to give to friends. Your work is sublime, inspiring, envigorating.

  2. painted fish studio

    i am so incredibly angry about this mess. i cannot look at another bird drenched in oil picture – it makes me cry. this morning i had to turn off the radio as they discussed the number of animals dying. and yet this print is a reminder of the beauty that is still out there and we must protect it, and that i must continue to think about the things i consume and how my actions have far reaching affects. i’ll take one, please.

  3. kitty

    Stunning! I am a subscriber and I think this might be the most beautiful one yet — perhaps I’m partial because I grew up on the Gulf Coast. You’re right, the words are like a poem. It’s painful and lovely to look at this.

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NOTE: The shop is currently closed while I juggle a series of book deadlines and events. It will reopen on Tuesday, September 25, 2018. Thanks! Dismiss