If I had to
Acrylic paint on canvas.
160cm x 180cm
Nature is based on relationships—cause and effect. But our contemporary way of living can divorce us from these relationships.
I am an urbanite. I grew up with a panoply of global goods at my fingertips but with no connection to their origins. Consequently, I had little consciousness of how my consumption affected the world.
My grandparents, however, embodied a more primordial way of thinking. Their stories, and the vocabulary they employed to tell them, revealed a complete lack of separation between humanity and the natural world. To them, humans were completely symbiotic with the cosmos.
Living between these two world views caused me to question the kind of relationship that can be created between humanity and nature when humans develop solely in cities. While urban environs include natural features, we always impose an anthropocentric design on urban flora. Parks and gardens are designed and maintained for the pleasure of humans. Although other fauna adapt to these unnatural habitats, their survival becomes much more complicated in it as well.
We’re now aware that humans have created critical problems for the natural world, and I believe these problems stem from the relatively new conceptual separation of humanity from nature. This lack of symbiosis manifests in ideas of ownership in which nature is commodified. This commodification has lead to an attitude that land is an inert, building space for us, instead of the ecosystem in which we participate. How can we conceive of ourselves as symbiotic with nature when we’ve commodified it as real estate, food, beauty products, etc.? Is it possible to reinsert ourselves into nature if we continually perceive it in terms of containment and manipulation for our comfort? I don’t believe we can. Anthropocentric thinking necessarily reduces other organisms to a position of inferiority that radically decreases our ability to connect with our world on deeper levels.
Instead, I believe that we must develop a fair-mindedness that considers all inhabitants of our world equally. There are tremendous possi- bilities for human growth and change through increased understanding of the organisms around us and the relationships they cultivate. If we have the humility to learn from the natural world, I believe it can teach us how to live more peacefully and fully with each other.
My practice is dedicated to this revelation. Utilizing a variety of media (from pulverized plants to found objects), I abstract the elements of nature to expose how natural interactions really take place. I’m especially interested in seeing nature as it really is, free from the superim- position of romanticized conceptions of beauty. For example, I seek to portray the actual life of a leaf, including its provision of food to insects and its eventual decay. Through installation, painting, and sculpture, I create micro and macro landscapes that reveal the lessons of the cosmos through which we can learn more about ourselves.