Art and ecology are one and the same to me. Both are, essentially, the study of our environment and the beings that inhabit it. Sculpture has become my way of visually portraying the dynamics between animals and the environment. And, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, humans play an integral role in the environment.
Our connection to nature has always been my greatest source of inspiration, so much so that I pursued a career as a marine scientist in hopes of helping to protect our resources from further degradation. Now, instead of researching how life degrades under human pressures, I explore the intricate, delicate, and subtle relationships between humans and nature through art. With my sculptures, I strive to not only bring aspects of the underwater world to the public but also to help dissolve the communication barrier between scientists and society.
Clay is my chosen medium because it is sourced from the Earth, and it can be easily molded. A unifying theme of my current and future work is the force, explicit or hidden, of humans on nature. Thus, clay is a perfect conduit for exploring the fragility and resilience of nature during the Anthropocene. In addition, I combine natural materials, such as seeds and wood, with clay, to further contrast man-made versus nature-made. The clay, shaped by my will, is fired to an almost indestructible state, while the organic materials may degrade and change over time. Often, these natural objects add new textures to the clay, surprising the viewer and inspiring new sculptures.
I tend to work in two modes: 1) conceptually and 2) intuitively. My conceptual artwork usually confronts an environmental issue of personal interest, such as climate change or overfishing. To effectively communicate how humans are impacting nature, I incorporate realistic figures or animals. In the future, my work will further examine the problems the environment faces and the science underlying sustainable solutions, by combining large-scale, outdoor installations with interactive elements informed by the process and insights of science.
When working intuitively, nature directly inspires my creative process. An idea will form based on the shape of an organism found while exploring the outdoors. I then work with the clay and allow the lines and forms that emerge to drive the sculpture. My fascination with coral texture, originating from years of working in coral reefs, and other textures found in nature typically manifests in these biomorphic sculptures.
Both my conceptual and intuitive work often evokes feminine figures suggestive of harvest, resources, and fertility. Being a woman in science and now art has unearthed a deep desire to study the female figure in our society and the similarities between woman and Mother Nature. The Earth, as a whole, is a growing, fertile resource that we affect in both positive and negative ways. My work is beginning to delve into the oft forgotten relationship between femininity, harvest, and our natural resources.
By combining figures, natural materials and organic shapes, my sculptures balance realism with abstraction to explore the expected and unexpected connections between humans and nature. I am hopeful that my creations will inspire critical thought about how deeply all life, including humans, is connected.
"I HAVE ALWAYS FELT IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO IN ADVANCE, THEN YOU WON'T DO IT. YOUR CREATIVITY STARTS WITH WHETHER YOU'RE CURIOUS OR NOT."
FRANK GEHRY, Architect