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The Memory of Nature / Nature of Memory 2008-2014

I work in various media–photography, printmaking, mixed-media, and installation–and often use grids to structure images of chaos, wildness, randomness, and natural forms that seem devoid of order yet lure me with their elegance. With the large grids of roots, algae and other tangled forms in the Memory of Nature Project, I feel as if I am playing a game of chess between order and chaos, knowing and not knowing, remembering and forgetting.  

Memory has played various roles in my work over the years. Recently I have been looking at memory from the perspective of neuroscience because of  the unprecedented information about the brain and nervous system revealed by new imaging technologies used in science and medicine.  I was struck by the beauty of brain images and by their visual and conceptual parallels with natural forms such as roots and algae.  To get a better handle on the estimated 100 billion neurons (brain cells), 500 trillion synapses, and the dendrites, axons and nodes in the overall nervous system, I began scanning small plants or parts of plants at high resolution and printing them ten to twenty times their original size. At this scale, every tiny root, algae branch, leaf, grain of sand, or strand of entangled fishline presents itself in such astonishing detail that they can seem unreal and even alien.

  Night Life, 44"h x 42"w and detail, right

   Andromeda, 33"h x 42"w and detail, right

Forgetting, 72"h x 72"w

Apparition, 72" x 72"   and below at Appearances in Provincetown, MA, with Wandering II

 

   Endless Memory (Copper Wire); 48"h x 54"w                                                      Soft Memory (Sheep's Fleece with Seeds); 48"h x 54"w

   Sea Memory, Branching, 54" x 48"                                                                          Intertwined (Knotted Wrack and Beachgrass Roots) 54" x 48"

  Source/Awakening (seaweed) 54" x 48"                                                               All In the Mind, 45" x 48"

Findings, 72" x 96", detail below left

  Findings, detail                                                                                                           Wanderer, 45" x 48"

  Remembering (Amaranth Root), 48" x 36" detail, right

  Memory Circles (Bird's Nest); 45"h x 48"w, install at Cotuit, MA, Center for the Arts

 
Memory Reach (Fine Roots); 54" x 36"                                                                    Messenger, 36" x 18", right (sold)


Last Summer (Beach Salvage), 72" x 60"; installation view at Galatea Fine Art, Circular Memory and Sea Lettuce

Wandering II, 90" x 72"; installation at Montpelier Art Center (Montpelier, MD), below, left and at A.I.R. Gallery (Brooklyn) below, right.

  
These images, ranging from 36" to 112" in overall vertical and horizontal dimensions consisting of individually framed archival pigment prints. The process begins with selecting natural or found materials from beaches, dunes, my backyard, or elsewhere. Each sample or specimen is small, usually fitting in the palm of my hand. The specimens are laid directly on a flatbed scanner and only modestly "arranged" for composition. My interest is in their natural complexity, entanglement, chaos, and organic structure.

 

This project was funded in part by a Visual Arts Sea Grant awarded by the University of Rhode Island in 2010.

Works from this project were featured in a 3-person exhibition titled Mind Sets in Maryland and Vermont,
solo shows at Galatea Fine Arts, Boston, the Milton Art Museum, Canton, MA, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, Yarmouth,
group shows at A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn,  the University of Rhode Island Main Gallery, Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit, MA,
and South Shore Art Center, Cohasset, as well as in Provincetown at the Center for Coastal Studies,
the Fine Arts Work Center, Schoolhouse Gallery, and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum .