“Collaboration with Soil” Artist’s Statement
I start with the knowledge, but not a complete understanding of the microbial diversity of the soil, and the importance of decomposition as part of a healthy soil to maintain life as we know it – especially food and clean water. We walk upon this miracle every day and we call it dirt. I am interested in what the microbes will do with an artist’s canvas if given a chance. I bury the cotton canvas for about a month in various locations on my farm, then wash it gently and study what emerges. I engage in a conversation with the piece visually using small amounts of water-based paint that I create using natural materials (acacia gum, glycerin, etc) mixed with plant and earth-based pigments. The translucency is created with a coating of linseed oil and turpentine, which are also natural materials made from plants – flax and pine trees. Some of the works are created in collaboration with other humans – gardeners, students, farmers…and their soil. I consider these collaborative pieces to be a starting point for the viewer to discover their own story or narrative regarding their relationship with soil.
This first project was also a collaboration with my fellow students in the Goddard College MFA-IA program in Port Townsend, WA. I sent a piece of cloth to each person who volunteered to participate. The instructions asked them to bury the cloth for about a month, prepared any way they wanted. They were asked to dig up the cloth, rinse it, let it dry, and then send me the cloth and also a story and/or pictures related to the experience, and any other ideas or thoughts they had about it. The photos below document this project. I also participated. Click on the first image below to see the series as a slide show.