View Points at Tijuana Estuary
Ecological art, or ecoart to use the abbreviated term, is based on an embodied sense of the artist in a larger web of interconnected relationships. Ecological art is much more than a traditional painting, photograph, or sculpture of the natural landscape. While such works may be visually pleasing, they are generally based on sublime, awe inspiring or picturesque, preconceived views of the natural world. Ecological art, in contrast, is grounded in an ethos that focuses on communities and inter-relationships. These relationships include not only physical and biological pathways but also the cultural, political and historical aspects of communities or ecological systems.
Ecological art can enhance connectivity by fashioning potent metaphors, identifying patterns, weaving stories or working directly to restore existing systems and or create new sustainable linkages. Ecological art can engender appreciation, address core values, offer remediation, build relationships, advocate political action, and broaden intellectual understanding. Ecological art is rooted in principles of stewardship, in profound respect for and engagement with the worlds in which we live. From this ground, ecoart can enliven the ecosystems we inhabit and contribute to their healing, renewal and long-term vitality.
-written in conversation with members of the eco-art dialogue
My work addresses the heart and mind, intuitive and analytical modes of thought. I draw from both art and science. I am particularly informed by non-mechanistic scientific paradigms based on a holistic systems analysis. Furthermore, I recognize that science and culture are inseparable; while science provides tools to precisely understand the natural world, the questions posed by science are informed by culture. Through moving visual imagery, humor, or juxtaposition of disparate elements, I attempt to both shape and challenge cultural and political values that inform science and technological development.
Much of my art work centers around stories. Stories reestablish connections, suggest relationships, and kindle new meaning. My early work began with close observation of place. It was a deliberate attempt to slow down, to look and listen carefully. In response to the large scale of heroic earthworks, I began by looking at small details. I carefully defined small systems that were representative of large scale environmental dynamics. Through repeated observation of the tiny changes in these systems, by conflating time and scale, I provided an intimate view and deep appreciation of long term, larger scale environmental processes. Later I turned to human stories. I listened carefully, communicating the central issues and points of relationship. Recent work combines both approaches.
Metaphor is central to my work. A good metaphor evokes a network of interrelationships and a layering of meaning. Metaphors help both to make existing patterns apparent and to envision new types of interaction.
Most of my work is either site specific, responds to an environmental or social issue, or both. I define environment in the broadest sense of the term, and my work explores the sociocultural and political as well as physical and biological properties of a given system or community. I may be drawn to a given site or issue by an intuitive attraction, the complexity of the political or ecological dynamics, or a commission, but often times I have little idea of the shape of the work as I initiate a project. My work therefore begins with extensive research. This "research" may take many forms including attentive listening and looking, reading scientific and historical literature, talking to both professionals and local residents, and of course exploring the site and/or listening to members of the community--paying attention to what I experience. The art work, including images, objects, sound and/or text, arises from my explorations. I hope that my projects will provoke a similar investigation for the viewer, encouraging them to develop a relationship to place and/or contemplate an issue, examine their preconceptions, and envision new possibilities.