Nature is one of our greatest teachers: in creation, destruction, renewal, and balance.
Humanity has found ways to disrupt nature and impose ourselves on the landscapes that shape our experience of life. Through humans trying to understand our relationship with nature, we have created harm and destruction to the land directly and also to how we experience it. Out of these interactions, nature in America has become deeply tied to national identity and an individual sense of belonging; “other” is alienated. . Spaces that should be healing, a reminder that we are part of something greater, are unsettling and even dangerous to many who are “other” in American society.
As an artist of mixed race heritage I have found the deep struggle between pieces of my identity are mirrored in my relationship with the environment. I look for solace in the healing spaces of nature when I cannot be otherwise at peace with myself. Growing up in an area of Michigan that is overwhelmingly white in both its social and natural landscape my family stood out. The enjoyment of moving through the rivers in waders was often interrupted with the realizations that the owners of the land around me were primarily white people who owned guns. Along with this bodily understanding of danger moving through the natural environments of my childhood there was an emotion I could never understand, as if nothing I could learn from nature would stay. If you cannot see yourself belonging in the space you are physically situated, how can you know where you are?
My cultural landscape is full of bright colors and smells from paper, ceramic, fabric and spices, and I find that they are disruptive to many as I move through the world. David Batchelor writes in “Chromophobia”: “The other is over there: geographically/physiographically distinct. But the other that is color is everywhere: around and in and of us, a part of everything we see every day in our every waking moment.” The art I create imagines landscapes of other worlds, other futures, by reclaiming it through materials, colors, and smells of my own culture. I begin an understanding of what natural growth looks like when combined with the variability of color. This beauty, wonder and exploration that comes from it is not only my reclamation of my own presence and experiences in natural space, but the creating and imagining of how nature will expand and vibrate with accessibility to all.