MYTH OF THE FLAT WORLD
A landscape can be read like a text, each element revealing a piece of a narrative. Weeds can tell stories of traveling across continents and displacing other species to dominate their new terrains. Cultivated plants have survived and spread partially through their seduction of human beings, and some animal species are now believed to have partially domesticated themselves. Landscape is something constructed, piece by piece, by many different players.
This body of work explores this built aspect of the environment by following the same basic structure as millefleur tapestries. Each work is assembled flower by flower so that the final image contains dozens of individual photographs. Native species mix with non-native and even invasive plants, as do human and animal elements.
Plastic objects have centuries-long lifespans, meaning they will outlive us and become our most visible artifacts. Because of this, we could be considered to be living in a Plasticene era, a term used by some geologists to describe this period dominated by plastic waste. The bags in my series Plasticene have been shaped to reference art & artifacts from the past, as they will one day fulfill the same basic role that pottery & sculpture previously have in memorializing an era. The plastic forms in these images float above waves, creating new pseudo-mythological scenes over the waters of my native Great Lakes region.
The four seasons have been a common subject in painting since the Middle Ages. Spring scenes typically showed a kind of earthly paradise, while Summers were shown as rich and languid. Images of Autumn focused on more sombre visions of the harvest, while Winter images focused on the cold & barrenness of the landscape.
My series Seasoning focuses on the bodily discomforts that I experience during these four times of year. Each image is inspired by a different bodily fluid; my experience of Spring is as tied to mucus as it is to flowers, which is why both feature heavily in that image. While I am inspired by the heavily layered symbolism of previous interpretations of the four seasons, I am also interested in considering the more base, disgusting, and banal ways that our bodies connect us to the rest of the natural world.
During the Renaissance, the Arcadia region of Greece was often portrayed in art and literature as a perfect and unspoiled wilderness. In this fictional Arcadia, men lived in harmony with the landscape and other animals. Even in our own time, there exists a sense of a time in the past where human beings lived in some kind of Eden before our own nature forced us out.
The work in Arcadia focuses instead on the push/pull relationship that humans have with the rest of the natural world. While there is comfort in existing above and largely outside of nature’s very real and painful cycles, there’s also an equal but opposing longing to reconnect with them. Because of this, a lot of my work addresses the meeting place between “human” and “natural” places and states of being. Even the human body can be seen as a hybridized space between humanity and animality, since the experience and discomfort of having a body connects us so strongly to other animals.