Recent scientific research indicates that plants can hear themselves being chewed by caterpillars and that trees talk to each other through a network of underground fungus.
The last two years I’ve spent in Nature, fancying myself a modern Thoreau, living at water’s edge, spying the heron’s nest and the turtle’s sunning rock. I read Mary Oliver’s poetry about wild geese, awakening bears, or Aunt Leaf, “hanging in the milky moonlight.” I poured over Walton Ford’s irreverent yet Audubon-like paintings of drunken baboons and swarming birds. This time has heightened my awareness to human actions upending Nature, a nasty juxtaposition.
For my most recent painting series, In Place, I've painted my distress at the incongruity between my reverence for the natural world, and what news reports reveal. Loggers, poachers, Monsanto, Nestle, Spectra- all seem intent on destroying life. My paintings are a distillation of dismay, anger, ignorance or acquiescence regarding the destruction of our world. It’s all so frustrating.
Once, I saved someone I loved from drowning. My body moved to the instructions imbedded in my memory from YMCA summer camp, in automated action. I was sure without thinking. Between paintings I make collages. Much like that rescue, I arrange and rearrange scraps of paper and glue them together, innately, like a bird building its nest. After each studio session, when I look at the finished collages, I almost wonder who made them. They seemed to have happened while my mind was in organic energetic rhythm with something outside myself. The process rejuvenates me enough to be able to read the news again, and then I need to get back to work.
Sometimes, though, I paint people’s dogs. We live in a world of unimaginable complexity. Dogs make it all better. I paint them in service, to honor the human- animal bond. Henry David Thoreau wrote: "To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of the arts." It may seem like a small thing, but so is a caterpillar eating a leaf.