From earliest human records, and across many cultures, Nature 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 ancient deities, struggling to survive in environments degraded by human industry, are my anachronistic proxies for the bio-systems they traditionally protected, and the myriad living entities within these systems. I use the body language of distress, chemical notation, and molecular symbols to subvert classical traditions of idealized goddesses in Arcadian settings, reveal invisible toxins, and bear witness to ecological collapse in the Anthropocene.
My current work is framed by the psychological concept of solastalgia. Philosopher Glenn Albrecht coined the term. “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 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 goddesses I imagine are unable to offer blessings or protection for the world we have misused.