As an artist, I am fascinated by the interplay between human-made objects and the natural environment. In particular, I’ve been excited by the contrast of delicate, often ornamental beauty and sometimes gaudy broadcasting of porcelain figurines and the rugged, organic textures of the natural world. Through my work, I aim to explore the tension between these two realms, highlighting the ways in which each complements and meshes with the other.
Over the course of my 2019 artist-in-residency at The Land With No Name Sanctuary, one of my favorite subjects to work with was a manzanita tree.
This majestic plant, with its twisting branches and gnarled trunk–and this particular individual itself no doubt a Buddha–provides a perfect canvas for the incorporation of human-made objects. Placing porcelain figurines, antique boxes, and other, more obvious sculptural items near and around the tree's bark, creates a whimsical, otherworldly effect.
What I find particularly compelling about this approach is the way in which it highlights the longevity and thus innate wisdom of the manzanita. While the porcelain and ceramic figurines may be delicate and fragile–it is not beyond the ability of any viewer to note the now absence of the cat’s owner, the boy, for some time gone missing, broken off and discarded–the tree itself is incredibly resilient, with a lifespan that can span hundreds of years. Juxtaposing these two elements–the domestically created and the otherwise created–draws attention to the ways in which the natural world endures and perseveres, even in the face of human intervention.
Ultimately, my goal as an artist is to create work that not only inspires reflection and contemplation about the relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world, but that also encourages an inward glance to one’s own magnificent frailty. Dropping human-made objects into the wild environment and then forcing a close-up view encourages viewers to consider the impact that we have on the world around us, and to appreciate the beauty that can arise from unexpected juxtapositions, human incarnation, and the perfectly sublime natural object.