My mixed media paintings explore the existential crisis associated with anthropogenic environmental changes, through an ecofeminist perspective.
From earliest human records, and across many cultures, Nature has been embodied as Goddess. The Ancient Greeks gave every tree and forest, every stream and river a female deity for protection. Western civilization, source of the Industrial Revolution and the brutal colonization of the New World, embedded Greek mythology in the elite male education systems of Europe, from the Renaissance forward.
These mythological nature deities, struggling to survive in environments degraded by human industry, are my anachronistic proxies for the bio-systems they traditionally embodied and protected. I use the body language of distress to subvert classical traditions of idealized goddesses in Arcadian settings. I alter colonial era maps to reflect the cultural as well as environmental changes that began with European exploration of the New World. Chemical notation and molecular symbols acknowledge the science behind ecological collapse, and bear witness to invisible toxins that permeate life in the Anthropocene.
These series are framed by the psychological concept of solastalgia, a term coined by Glenn Albrecht. “Solastalgia is the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault (physical desolation). It is manifest in an attack on one’s sense of place, in the erosion of the sense of belonging (identity) to a particular place and a feeling of distress (psychological desolation) about its transformation.”
Solastalgia, or eco-grief, is not a romantic wistfulness for the mythical past. For me, it is a deep melancholy for our present world of strip mining and deforestation, super-storms and brutal heat waves, melting permafrost and ocean acidification, monoculture farming and mass species extinctions. It is anger and helplessness at the relentless onslaught of industrial toxins in the air, water, soil, food. It is a heartbreaking awareness of irreversible destruction and loss bequeathed to our descendants.
The intent of this body of work is increased awareness of humanity’s destruction of functional ecosystems, including the biodiversity loss that follows habitat degradation. My goddesses express the emotional impacts associated with these losses, with the goal of supporting active participation in wildland conservation and ecological restoration.