Mierle Laderman Ukeles, one of the artists featured in TO LIFE! Eco Art In Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet, identified four ways of envisioning the Earth:
EARTH as WIFE suggests a reliable and supportive partner
EARTH as VIRGIN implies a territory ripe for gratification and pleasure
EARTH as WHORE introduces the possibility of degradation and exploitation
EARTH as MOTHER conjures the assuance of bounty and steadfastness.
The artists participating in the exhibition “Dear Mother Nature” were not united in their interpretation. Their art works are as likely to present her as wife, virgin, and even whore. Their varied responses reflect the confusion that exists in humanity’s relationship to our planet. This confusion is imbedded in the English language.
Consider that the origin of the word ‘ecology’ is the Greek word ‘oikos’ which means ‘dwelling place’.
Over time, ‘oikos’ became ‘okologie’ or ecology.
The science of ecology provides three definitions of ‘home’:
Habitat is place
Range is distance
Niche is behavior
But there are other definitions and implications that lurk beneath awareness.
Consider the word ‘domicile’ which means ‘dwelling place’. This innocuous term is actually loaded with distressing implications which reveal English-speakers’ attitudes toward our dwelling place on planet Earth.
‘Dom’ provides the root word for domicile, dominate, domesticate, dominer, dominion, and domain. All these word suggest supremacy, command, control, authority, and ownership.
What have we done to Mother Nature? Has she been besieged with actions described by the ‘dom’ words?
Five artists will be interpreting her being at the Dorsky Museum, Saturday, starting at 2 pm: Christy Rupp, Elisa Pritzker, Jan Harrison, Carl Volk, and Barbara Bash. I will be there too, as curator of this lovely exhibition. Please come.