I have been focusing on land in my current work – ruminating on ideas about land preservation through spending time in national and state parks, on preserve land and at sites of historical significance. I make my paintings and drawings directly from these spaces. I research their histories, and through thinking about which version of history is recorded, make connections between environmentalism, capitalism, plantation economies, and violence.
My current city is Jacksonville, FL, and my work comes directly from the land here. I spend time at Kingsley Plantation, Big and Little Talbot Island State Parks, Fort Caroline, Fort Clinch and other spaces within the Timucuan preserve. While I currently live in the American South, I was born and raised in Glens Falls, NY. This is significant for me in the sense that both cities have proximity to early American historical sites; spaces which formed the ideas and economies of our current socioeconomic structure. In exploring these spaces from both my home state and my current state, I have found a connection to the energies of the land itself; I feel a whisper of the people and experiences of the past, which I try to put into my paintings.
Through this process, I have become curious as to whether human bodies and human experiences leave a trace on land; if they can permanently and energetically alter it. Essentially, I wonder if trees and plants can hold memories of injustice and violence. Through these questions, I’ve come to know the research of Suzanne Simard, whose conclusions lead us to know that trees communicate with each other via mycorrhizal fungi, leading to hypotheses about the metaphysical space of forests.
In addition to Simard’s research, I have come to learn about the concept of the Plantationocene vs. the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene gives a name to human-caused environmental change, but the Plantationocene is a more nuanced definition which places colonialism, capitalism, and the enduring impact of racial hierarchical thinking at the center of the climate change conversation. This feels an accurate definition to me, and relevant to my work, as the spaces that I paint from exist because of colonialism and are now threatened because of economic policies which have led to the changing of the climate. This also ties in with ideas about the origin stories of the country - in coming to terms with the white supremacist attitudes which formed the nation, and which endure today, as to who America is for. My work is situated at national parks and historic sites due to the contradiction in the preservation of natural land adjacent to sites of historic violence and injustice, and the way Americans think about and relate to these spaces. This convergence of economics, environmentalism and American identity are key aspects to the work and the concepts I continue to research through my paintings.