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There is a great interrelating in all living systems. Individual threads of life interweave with all the other lives and elements around them, forming a great web, a fabric of life and of place and of experience. No thread can be pulled without bringing the others with it. The heron is as much a part of the water and the air as it is the trout and the slow seeping silt. The wetland is as much a part of the river and the forest that it meets as it is the bacteria and leaf litter that help generate it.
When I first began writing and taking photos, I thought these bodies of work were separate entities, and increasingly, they are woven together. I began to call these works “weavings.” Similarly, for a while, I began working on what I thought were individual series of these works, each with it’s own theme. As I have continued this work, I am finding that these themes or “threads” are overlapping and interweaving more than I had anticipated. Many of my current works touch on several of the following themes, which in their own turn, bear relationship with the others. So I find myself creating a web, with weavings at many levels. And how could it not be so? I am a living system, interrelating with other living systems, and so it rightly follows that my work takes the same form – a great web.
Below you can navigate to the whole body of works, or along particular threads.
In an interview, poet David Whyte speaks about the concept of “genius loci,” which was the original usage of the word genius in the ancient world, referring to the essential quality or spirit of a particular place. This quality is a result of the special confluence of elements, organisms, and events that all come together to shape that place. In these works, I aim to convey and translate that essence. I explore how our relationship with place can contribute to greater balance and healing within us, shaping us and our lives, and again in turn shaping how we relate with the wider body of the earth.
All around us there are beings. Beings that breathe, that awake each day or night, that crawl and hunt, that graze and play, that root in the earth and drink in the sun. Albert Schweitzer wrote, “I am life that wants to live in the midst of other life that wants to live,” meditating on the reverence for life forms beyond the human, and the importance of taking action in support of of life. The more time I spend with non-human beings, the more I respect our shared simple desire to live, the more we become equals living on this planet, and the more I wish to become familiar with their ways.
This series of photographs and writing explore the intersection of humans with the land and the lives it supports. In a large part, it is born out of living in California’s central valley for several years and the warped experience of living in a landscape that is entirely shaped by human influence, with only minuscule pockets of native ecosystems.
At a detail level, the photographs capture human effects on plants, animals and ecosystems, as well as places that are fundamentally humanized, such as monoculture farms, landscaped towns, and the constructed borders between these two. The desire to feed and provide for humans is certainly a humanistic motivation, and this series brings up the issue of whether it is possible to fulfill these needs while still supporting and caring for the land and the system of life it sustains.
As a whole, this series asks questions, such as: what is the difference between partnering with life and manipulating it for predominantly or solely human gain? What does being “human” mean in terms of the impact we have on place and other life forms as well as on other humans? Is there a way to tend and partner with the land and living beings without overpowering them?
The photographs and stop-motion video in this series were the result of a train ride in 2014 on Baltimore’s light rail from the county to the city, and feature circular cracks in the window, which frame the surroundings.
A traditional enso is a Zen Buddhist painted ink circle, an expression of the interrelation of all things. As an enso, this glass circle holds the total everything. These images are explore the intermingling of inclusion, brokenness, interdependence, and wholeness, specific to this particular place. They implore us to see that this is the world we live in and encourage us to hold the whole thing.