"Human Survival" Series
Since the age of 12 I have been deeply concerned about the survival of the human species. I see that we live in an inter-woven tapestry of global connectivity, on which the survival of the human species depends. For several years, my work (in several media but especially tire rubber) has dealt with the vulnerability of human survival due to the imbalances in our current lifestyle - and is a call to rethink and change our way of life while we still can.
Our survival is vulnerable by virtue of the way in which humanity presently receives it's survival needs (food, clothing, shelter, communication and health) — dependent on increasingly complicated technology, and on the environmentally imbalanced and damaging stream of constant transportation, fuel consumption, commensurate pollution, and vulnerability to fuel shortages and ultimately to the end of fossil fuel resources. We need a new ideology and sustainable lifestyle to replace the consumer mythology, one that reflects our awareness that we are part of rather than separate from the world we live in, and that our activities directly impact our own ecosystem and our own future.
I am fascinated by the visual language of forms and textures, and the contrasts between those of nature and those made by mankind. The difference between the natural-made and the man-made haunts my concerns for the future of our species. I see we have collectively wandered from knowing our proper place within the natural world to a false perception that we are somehow above it all. We sorely need to restore an appropriate human relationship to the rest of the natural world, of which we are a part. Can our interdependence and cultural ideology be reassembled in a more sustainable fashion?
Why Tire Rubber?
Tire fragments are an ideal metaphor for our times and for the tension between human forces and the natural forces within which we operate. These fragments show engineered textures made by our human ingenuity and also the shredded and ripped textures created when the natural forces of heat, friction, centrifugal force and vapor pressure ultimately overpower our human technological creations. Which powers are greater here?
While gathering rubber by the roadside, the violence of the highways is palpable with the rush of sound and wind blasts from passing trucks and traffic. This experience evokes the metaphorical violence our consumer culture imposes against the natural world, showing a sense of personal vulnerability and pending danger, an unsettling feeling, unwelcome to humans or other creatures.
Like the vehicles which abandon torn tire fragments alongside the highways, our materialist consuming and transportation-dependent society leaves behind a vast array of detritus and pollution, by-products of our ways (i.e. CO2 emissions, contaminated groundwater, etc.) — evidence so common that we often don't even see what we have used up, what we leave behind, nor the implications of our lifestyle. Living this way is damaging to our environment, and is like dumping trash in our own bedrooms.
"Inside Form" Series
This body of work is about my faith and hope in the animate space within all living things, embodying that invisible and enigmatic life force - and the sacred importance of that particular form for holding that living essence, protecting it and carrying it forward into the next generation or species. I am fascinated by the constant evolution of forms across geologic time, always in the process of change — some running their course and going extinct and others newly created to keep this forward passage of life in continual motion.
Using the language of simple geometric shapes, these tall pieces are an attempt to reach a level of human existence apart from the typical distinctions of gender, culture, economic system, politics, gesture and emotion. The forms were conceived almost as fragments or slices that remain after the removal and paring away of outer layers. What is common to all of humanity once outer layers are removed and an inner core revealed?
The botanical term "pericarp" is a beautiful metaphor for the role played in evolution by humans (and by all life forms), and applies to all the works of this series, but particularly to works including Between, Link, Pericarp, Trace and Continuation: A pericarp is a disposable form (or "seed vessel") that protects the seed of the next generation — being neither the parent nor the next life form itself, but guarding the seed in its journey to germination, and being eventually discarded like all used-up life forms.
I view each life form (particularly that of humanity) in this way. In the course of geologic time, I believe we are individually and collectively disposable forms, yet imbued with the sacredness of life. We are all part of a lineage of continuity, a linkage to other life forms and to all life across all time — past into the future. It is in this context that I reflect on the fate and future extinction of the human form, face our role as accelerant to evolutionary processes, and attempt to make peace with what troubles me about the human impact on the planet. It is strangely calming to contemplate how life will continue to dwell within various evolving forms long into the future, with or without humans on the planet.