Thoughts on making this new work.
This is a time in our human civilization when information sharing has helped to catapult the integral role that our microbial brothers have on every aspect of our daily lives from our food cravings and gut health to their abilities to affect food production, water, air, and our living environments.
For the past few years, I’ve been spending time learning about soil and the implications of thinking of soil as the guardian of the story of life.
In the soil, an ongoing drama reveals complexity of what interactions between communities creates. The microbial community interacts with the fungal, animal, and plant kingdoms.
In fact, the soil goes beyond the microbial. It incorporates elements from all our living kingdoms. The soil is the living record of all existence. The literal depth of what this means is not readily accessible to cultures that have not appreciated that knowledge into their core guide toward understanding life.
Work in progress. Setting up the fabric layer on my worktable.
So how does one approach such a foundational and arguably “invisible” connection with soil?
In the world of marketing, conveying the truth in a positive light requires selling a palatable narrative. This narrative typically touches on larger topics, like happiness, love, and accessibility.
And like love, the consumer happily fills in the blanks with their own aspirational DNA.
One doesn’t typically take the path of the stark “hard truth” because it may be frightening, or pull the viewer out if the spell of the aesthetically beautiful siren call.
Details from the left of A Soil Waltz
The reality of the inner workings of what we are “buying”, whether its a product, idea, or lifestyle is not for the faint of heart. Amid the marketing barrage of messages conveying easy, accessible joy, are the actual “blood and guts” of the operation. From the source to the final product and beyond most products come at great cost to other humans’ health and well-being, and can include long-term harm to drinking water sources, forest ecosystems and air quality. Learning about the blue river water in Bangladesh that has caused a disastrous ecological domino effect on the land just so the consumer can select from a tremendous array of denim jeans, or the burning of the Amazon rainforest to create beef cow pastures so hamburgers can be sold around the world, or of burning all kinds of chemicals in industry releasing tiny particulate matter that one an breathe in that travels around our neighborhoods, and affects our living spaces.
As a species, we tend to move away from the unattractive and difficult path.
This is where art, in all forms, is able to travel. We journey with the characters in great works of literature, we dance to the layered beats of drums and the strums of bass riffs, we see the ability of original art transform our perspectives of reality. Within each “newness” we take the risk to read, listen, view, move or think from a different angle.
Detail from the right of A Soil Waltz.
This is the realm where I am working. The place where is the perpetual battle, the ever-building of communities, the influences of cultures (microbial and otherwise) and the hybridization, mutation, decimation, and creation of something different. There is a raw truth that can be frightening.
What also exists is the utter beauty the awe embodies.
There is a battle and there is a dance.
With all that, here is my latest piece in the Material Evolutions series.
A Soil Waltz: Stirring Camaraderie, Compassion, and Change
(A nod to the music from the movie Gladiator- Battle song by Hans Zimmer.) Hans might understand.
Dimensions: 24"H x 30" W (unframed)
Material: Repurposed textile, jewelry, beads, and glass and shells on stretched canvas.