“How do we as artists in today’s world find inspiration, or respond to a degraded landscape?”
Growing up in a rural area and completely surrounded by nature practically my entire life I didn’t understand how much it had been altered until much later. Knowing how much the land has been used and mined of it’s natural resources, how can I respond to that in my work? What do I want to say? Countless questions—not a lot of answers.
Researching and contemplating water, rivers, landscape, experience, materials and what the environment means in my work, this project has developed through questioning my role as an artist in relationship to the environment and material. Honestly, in the beginning I thought this was going to be a photographic project. However, the photographs that I was taking led me to the material I’m now using.
The work that will be in my thesis show is somewhat ethereal and unearthly, but the material comes from the earth. I take somewhat of a caretaker roll in the process of creating these leaves. I gather, sort, boil, rinse, scrap, bleach, rinse, rinse again and then lay them out to dry. I have basically cleaned the leaves. It’s an accelerated decomposition process refined to my expectations of what I want the material to look like. What is left is a skeleton, a copy, a remnant of what once was. A shadow of the degraded landscape. It’s something that cannot be returned to its original state and is forever altered.
Leaves are the engine of an ecosystem. They contain the carbon base of the food chain by providing the smallest of micro organisms what is needed to sustain life. I’ve placed them in this space to create a quiet and curious experience.
Last fall I began this project from an observational and scientific place, researching environmental issues, reading books by Bill Mckibben and listening to everything political concerning the current politics surrounding various environmental issues. The work has moved into a more contemplative installation, that is chasing something experiential.