Collaboration with Soil Part 1.

“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.

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