Earthquakes are a part of life in Southern California. In the period during which these paintings were made, the area suffered seven significant quakes, culminaating in the magnitude of 6.7 Northridgeearthquake on 17 January 1994, the strongest ever recorded in an urban setting in Northern California.
Reacting against the heaviness of the Howell canvases used in the Cognitos paintings, Wayne devised her own highly textured surfaces from styrene modules used for packing shipping crates,the ubiquitous Styrofoam "peanuts." Easily cut, shaped, glued, and painted, these modules allowed her to compose fields combining uniformity and variety, ideally suited to her series on earthquakes. They also continued her tradition of using the most commonplace objects to achieve uncommon aesthetic effects.