The sense of dread that surrounds the climate crisis presents an acknowledgment that humans are to blame, humans may be doomed and it may be too late to take any action grand enough to make a difference. If we zoom out far enough, so humans are not the center of the narrative, but the earth is, including the dirt, the rocks, the plants and animals, alive or dead or somewhere in between. What if the hierarchy flips or is eliminated so we are living with the earth or for the earth?

Soil, or dirt, is a metaphor for the earth, but it is the earth. Words matter because they categorize things. “Soil” should be fed and nurtured and protected. “Dirt” should be swept away and kept at bay. The “Earth” needs to be saved. If something cannot be categorized, it does not belong. As forms complete their cycle and become formless, they become soil, they become dirt, they become earth.

“In the particular is contained the universal.” (James Joyce) Through the investigation of the particulars of my immediate natural surroundings, I seek to reveal universal answers, but the answers are slippery and, ultimately, not so important. It is what is found along the way that is important. 

The investigation consists of looking and using drawing or painting as a process of selection and documentation. Focusing on the flotsam of nature, the dirt, the weeds, the dead birds, I search for and encourage an aesthetic appreciation of the banal, shine the spotlight on what is underfoot. Like any good portrait, I hope these images hint at the unknowable, the magic that we cannot see.

Deep observation can penetrate the obscuring effect of categorization. No need to interpret, translate or explain. Simply look and record. There is an intimacy to this process, to the experience of deep and literal witnessing.