Working with nature has always been at the center of my art making. This crossroads where art and nature meet may take the form of images or planting trees directly out in a landscape. Rather than manipulate nature, I am interested in understanding how we identify as nature and where biology and art making overlap. So I am most satisfied when there is a transparency to the work, where nature and human nature are indistinguishable, and there is a self- awareness of “biologically belonging to the world”.
In 2015 I began planting tree markers in the wetlands of Lincoln, Rhode Island as an empathic/existential response to nature. This work developed into planting trees in historical graveyards in northern Rhode Island. The historical graveyard plantings speak to timeless, organic, growing/decaying life cycles that is found in all life forms including human. The tree planting makes sense both with regard to the grave markers themselves which were marking time and loss and planting Dwarf Alberta Spruce trees also marking loss and remaining roughly human size during there slow growing period. I check in on the health of my tree-marker plantings from time to time, in a number of years I should have human size trees inhabiting the graveyards of northern R.I. . This rogue tree planting is deeply satisfying, I feel complete and, in some small way, I am left with a feeling of having connected with the earth. Three White Pine trees have been planted in Madison Square Park, New York, N.Y. in the fall of 2019. The tree planting project will continue in the spring of 2020 as there are many more sites that need tree markings.
The 2018 Tree Farm exhibit at URI Project Space is an extension of the Planting Project. Here I am bringing the trees indoors so that guests who choose to might plant them anywhere. I have never created any “social sculpture” before this, but as URI students will be planting trees from the Art Department’s Project Space I am curious how cultural planting will alter the planting experience.
Simultaneously, I have been making paintings. The “white tree” ( either dead trees or winter trees) archetypal subject matter runs through all of the 2017-2020 paintings and these are an attempt to bring my drawing process and my painting practice together, consequently, the works are more immediate and fluid. I work from photographs of trees. The visual chaos of the branches growing in random directions toward the sun light is quite exciting as a visual record of random organic growth. The multidirectional reach, the twists and turns capture and hold an image of the invisible, slow movement of organic life. The chaotic linear branches sometimes reveal a natural design, it is a matter of looking closer to see what is already there.