School of Art and Design Alumni Exhibition 2021
Wellington B. Gray Gallery
Intersections fascinate me. Grafting, in the traditional sense, is a process used to join two distinct plants, often trees, to make them more productive. In many of my works, natural tree limbs are grafted to milled lumber, wooden tools, furniture, and human hair. These works-gangly, elegant, contrived, fragile, and at times self- destructive-are reflections on our peculiar relationship with the natural world. In one sense, as evolution has shown, humans and their productions are clearly as much a part of the natural world as any other life form. Our skyscrapers are as much a part of nature as the honeycomb of the bee and, in fact, replicate some analogous structural principles. Noted conceptual artist and systems thinker, Hans Haake famously said, “The difference between ‘nature’ and technology is only that the latter is man-made.” Yet, there are reasons to believe we are somehow different from the rest of the natural world. We’ve invoked both science and religion to explain the apparent division. We position ourselves above nature by declaring that we are its stewards. We position ourselves below by elevating the rest of nature to a romantic ideal. We look for natural cures and natural foods. We seek Natural Light beer and Nature Valley granola bars. And, even if we erase the ideas that purportedly separate us from the natural world, the most powerful factor distinguishing us as a species remains: our disproportionate impact on the environment.
Mika’s Ponytail 2 willow branch, human hair, graphite, 15″ x 8″ x 3″, 2017