JOURNEY to the CENTER of the COMMONPLACE: The ancient root of the word ‘world’ (mundus) is also the source of the word for commonplace (mundane). Contemporary advances in science and technology have expanded the knowable ‘mundus’ far beyond mundane perceptions. Twin pillars of contemporary experience are located among quasars at the edge of the universe and quarks deep within the atom. While these ultra micro/macroscopic explorations excite the imagination, they divert attention from the substances shimmering in our midst. My art foregoes expanded and intensified perceptions at the frontiers of scale to celebrate our body’s sensual interactions with the commonplace.
MICRO MUCKRO MACRO: In an era attuned to technologically amplified perceptions of micro and macro domains, eyes and hands seem like paltry information-gatherers and material formers. We have become so attuned to tools that augment perceptions, enabling us to probe into the unfathomable regions of outer and inner space, that in all the English language, there is no word that describes human-scaled experiences that are accessible to our innate, sensory apparatus. My art introduces and activates the word ‘muckro’ to fit between the ‘micro’ and ‘macro’. It describes the territory where our feet are located, not where our tools can take us. It is where interactions are sensual, intimate, and responsive.
‘COM’ or ‘DOM’: Modes of human operation upon ecosystems are embedded in verbal language. Current behaviors are described by ‘dom’ words: dominion, dominate, domain, domesticate. They share the root from the French word (domus) meaning ‘house’ or ‘domicile’. Ecologists conceive of the entire Earth as one home, and that all forms of life share this address, and they lament that this ‘house’ has fallen into disrepair and is faltering. The prefix ‘com’ describes the means to accomplish its repair and renewal that many environmentalists advocate, and that I pursue. We foster the kindly interactions of ‘com’ words: comply, commune, commit, compassion.
PRE ‘PRE’: History is marked by a succession of ‘pre’s”: pre-Covid, pre-computer, pre-industry, pre-printing press, pre-mining, pre-agriculture, pre-writing, and even pre-fire. The earliest humans predated these precedents. As foragers, the environments that provided their means of survival were barely altered. In contrast, gathering the materials we regularly sit on, sleep in, walk upon, wash with, relax amid, work with, and throw away so thoroughly transforms ecosystems that their resilience is weakened. The modern era is noted for developing ever more sophisticated technologies that impose order and predictability upon the infinite variability of our planet. My art invites the public to suspend these cultural conditions, are reclaim the sensual intimacy of foragers. They experience the ultimate ‘pre’ by reversing the drive to reshape the environment to suit us, and reshaping ourselves to suit multitudes of non-human species.
GRANDMOTHER EARTH. ‘Mother Earth’, the age-old metaphor for our planet, casts humans as perpetually dependent children who rely upon Earth as provider and protector. But current environmental crises are jeopardizing Earth’s ability to support life. Now she needs to be supported. The term ‘mother’ excuses humans from assuming adult responsibility for maintaining the Earth’s well-being. Shifting metaphors to ‘Grandmother Earth’ evokes the planet’s fragile state. It casts us humans as care-givers and care-takers. We benefit by preserving the vastness of her offerings. We also gain access to her ancient wisdom. My art attempts to evoke the pragmatic and ethical implication of the grandmother metaphor.
The brooches emerged as a strategy to fulfill my artistic mission within institutional situations where foraging outdoors and creating communal artworks are not feasible. I compose the brooches with materials I collect from my woods to give away. These gifts are not merely jewelry. People who select one from many first examine the wondrous variability of these materials; each brooch is unique. Furthermore, as jewelry, the brooches are associated with items of value. Because their value is disassociated from commerce, I convey that their value derives from a non-monetary source. Most significantly, by wearing their brooches over their hearts, a physical connection occurs at a part of the body that is primed for discovering the material vitality the organic materials emit. This physical connection could never be gained by observing art.
Welcome to My Woods
Interactions with the public are a component of every exhibition of my artworks.
Typically I create zones in the gallery space. Each is devoted to a particular form of sensory interaction: MASS & WEIGHT, FORM & BEAUTY, TOUCH & TEXTURE, VOLUME & DIMENSION, FLAVOR & AROMA. Each zone consists of five guided explorations with materials that I foraged from my woods: leaves, vines, bark, seeds, bones, pinecones, sap, etc. Visitors are invited to engage with these overlooked materials and share their experience by contributing to a communal narrative of discovery. Since all this activity occurs in the space, I create assemblages of the same materials to hang on the walls. Each is approximately 8” x 10”. Their small size ensures that attention is not diverted from the interactive component of the exhibition, and because their size reinforces the close scrutiny that these intimate interactions encourage.
Welcome to My Woods series»
BioBoulders and IceBoulders
I work with boulders because, unlike pebbles and cobbles, boulders associate stone with durability and stasis. As such, they contribute significance to a rarely acknowledged fact about stone – it is not stable. Stone metamorphizes, like life. I also dissolves, like ice. In both cases stone changes over time. BioBoulders relay the role of living moss, algae, fungi, lichens, and microorganisms in altering stone. IceBoulders recall the role of the Ice Age in gouging and dislodging the stones of the Earth to form the current topographies. These BioBoulders are created with plaster laid upon a wire armature. I methodically cover the entire surface with small findings from my woods. My aesthetic goal involves gradual harmonious progressions that characterize the tempo and aesthetics of geological change. My IceBoulders are formed in molds and frozen. Each contains items that reference the current condition of woods that display the ongoing carving capacity of ice.
BEYOND DEATH SERIES
Confronting the ‘afterlife’ has been appearing on the list of humanity’s persistent dilemmas since the human mind evolved to wrestle with such complexities. It pits materiality against spirit. Despite generations of seekers the world, consensus has not yet been achieved. Recently, the debate has been expanded by ecology, which presents death as a complement to life, and decomposition as a corollary to growth. Ecologists assert that, the physical remains of the deceased, whether animal, plant, microbe, or human, remain within the material realm as revitalizing forces. After death, organisms transition from being consumers of resources, to donors of the elements required by new forms of life. The decomposition of corpses is the process by which this efficient recycling of biological material occurs. This installation, entitled “BEYOND DEATH”, unites material samples of deceased plants with symbols of the immateriality of the afterlife that many religious practices subscribe to.
BEYOND DEATH SERIES»