Bark comprises some of the world’s oldest cloth, and is still hand-pounded by indigenous women in locations ranging from the south Pacific through the Americas to Africa. I use varieties of this cultural art form from Tonga, American Samoa and Nicaragua as the “canvas” for my works in this show. Historic natural dyes of indigo blue from India and cochineal red from Mexico contribute more natural elements to these works, which connect ancient humankind to the burgeoning population of our modern world.
Just as men have always relied upon trees for materials and oxygen, another connection between the ancients and modern society is our dependence upon, and challenges with, water. This series of work reflects a theme of water and the concepts of flow, aquifer, drought, pollution and the tangled problems we face in using and preserving humanity’s lifeblood.
The images I’ve created in this exhibition range from linear complexity to conceptual simplicity. In an endless knot of global interrelations, No Word for that in English is a brush and ink drawing reflecting eternal societal problems seeking remedy. By contrast, the Zen-like portrayal of a simple well surrounded by burn marks in the work, Narrow Path to Something Pure, references a low-tech, community-based solution for safe drinking water where burns symbolize the scorched surfaces on earth caused by drought. The diptych Takes on the Form in which It is Held/Moves in the Path of Least Resistance references Taoist philosophy on the spirit of water by defining the very nature of it - that of fluidity, openness and compromise.
May these same concepts be applied to our global need to change individual, community and industrial use of water through innovative technologies and collaborative problem solving. For, as Einstein said, “No problem was ever solved by the same consciousness that created it.”