Nature & Culture

The following is a selection of works that explore the intersection of nature and culture: the relationship of humans to their material culture and to the natural world. I collect and use natural and manmade objects with a history, in which the processes of decay and use are evident, and which have been discarded or are considered ugly. I salvage and rehabilitate these materials in order to create something new that has never been seen. My objective is to transform everyday objects into works that go beyond themselves, in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and to bring out their inherent beauty.
The natural objects I use include wood collected from felled trees, hornet nests, leaves, soil, shed snake skins, and rocks. I am interested in creating works that act as mediators between the natural world and human culture. Many of these works blur the boundaries between them so that natural and man-made materials become a single new entity.
The first three works are part of a series of works that are nature/culture hybrids, in which I deliberately blurred the boundaries between human technology and nature, resulting in hybrid entities. I see these works as being mediators between nature and culture. In "Cowculator", for example, there is a melding of animal and machine, in a vision of the world of the future, in which our technology will be more fundamentally based on biological structures and processes. "Madonna" is built from cactus bark and ribs and All Thorn bush; however, its insides are composed of a computer circuit board. "Computer" is a cactus/computer hybrid. 

Mappa Mundi

 Paper, bark, metal, arrow heads; 2009. 

Odd Man Out

Obsidian, seed pods, soil, paper; 2009.

Madonna

Cactus, All Thorn bush, computer circuit board; 27"x9"x8"; 1994. 

Evolution

"Evolution" is an imaginary recreation of the early life forms that colonized the Earth. Wood, shells, found objects; 6' diameter, 1998. 

Snarl

Rusted metal and look-alike dried kelp are combined to blur the boundary between nature and culture. Rusted metal; 4' x 9'; 2006.

Specimen Boxes

Materials consisting of cactus slices,  fly wings, porcupine quills, hollyhock seeds, leaves, computer parts, paint, paper, nails, mountain mahogany seeds, shorthand script, bones, hornet nest paper, and other miscellaneous found materials 2009.

Untitled

Hornet nest paper, 2009.

Horns and Wood

Wood, cow horns; 13' x 17" x 8"; 1998.

Vortex

This work has been created out of the paper from a hornet nest. It emphasizes the architectural structure of the nest. Wasp paper, wood; 25" x 25" x 3"; 1999. 

Excavation

"Excavation" is a trompe l'oeil piece. Half of the circle is composed of cactus fragments and rusted metal pieces that are painted to look like the cactus fragments. The other half of the circle is composed of rusted metal and cactus fragments that are painted to look like the rusted metal. It is virtually impossible to distinguish between the manmade objects and the natural objects, thereby blurring the distinction between them. Cactus, metal; 6' diameter; 1998.

Treasure Chest

"Treasure Chest" is another blend of natural and manmade objects. An old box has been collaged with hornet nest paper and fitted with pine branch legs. In its drawers is a collection of plant and animal materials. Wood, hornet nest paper, natural objects; 12"x7"x11"; 1993.

Splice

Each object in this installation is composed of two or more pieces of dissimilar salvaged wood obviously joined together with screws and wire or metal, implying that their joining is forced and artificial. The installation is a visual metaphor for the gene splicing that produces genetically modified organisms. Tampering with nature can produce bizarre but beautiful results.

Computer

Computer, cactus bark, paint; 24"x20"x25"; 1994.

Cowculator

Cow vertebrae, calculator, plaster; 7"x8"x12"; 1994.

Butterfly Joy

"Butterfly Joy": 24" x 18" x 1 1/2"; stones, glass, paper, paint, plastic; 2016. Two Native American dancers morph into butterflies.

Untitled

 Untitled: 20" x 16" x 2 1/4"; cactus slices, mica sheets, coins, paper; 2016.
This piece is an interplay between Nature and Culture. The dried cactus slices echo the Chinese characters.

Analyze This

This is Art analyzing Science analyzing Nature. It makes visible the analytical methodology at the heart of the scientific endeavor. We take our measuring, probing, dissecting, and classifying for granted, as "the way things are." We forget that these are recent cultural constructs. 

Golden Oldies

In "Golden Oldies" an old car radio found in the desert is combined with cactus bark to create a hybrid nature/culture object. Car radio, cactus bark; 20"x10"x5'; 1994. 

Where Pearl Necklaces Come From

Wood, shells, artificial pearls; variable dimensions; 2000.

Coffee = Theorems

This elegant series of coffee stains on mathematical jottings brings new meaning to mathematician Alfréd Rényi's comment that "a mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems." This particular coffee-drinking mathematician fills hundreds of pieces of scratch paper with his notations in the process of creating his theorems. The scratch paper is then used to drain coffee filters. If coffee hadn't been invented, these theorems might not exist. 

Nature Unveiling Herself

"Nature Unveiling Herself (or how we got to where we are)"; 30" x 22" x 4"; found objects, paper, paint, clay, wood; 2016.
Playing off a sculpture of a similar title by Louis-Ernest Barrias, this work explores the philosophical underpinnings of the Industrial Revolution. Philosophers, such as Francis Bacon, viewed the Earth as inert and mechanistic, to be exploited for its resources. They likened Earth to a woman who needed to be seduced and subdued. This view still underpins our current industrial capitalist mode of resource extraction, production and consumption. One result has been the rapid climate change happening today. 

Itching for more art?