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Aether series: Making nature personal

Align, 48" x 48", mixed media on canvas, 2023

Aether series is the culmination of many hours of walking on the beach and in the woods, taking photos, editing them, printing, tearing, cutting, drawing, painting, stretching, ripping, scribbling, smudging, gluing, starting, stopping, and starting again. It covers a period of my life where I lost my studio to a fire and endured many other personal challenges along the way.

Adversity has a way of turning your attention back to the things you love. For me, that has always been the sand, the ocean, and the sky. I love the trees, the earth, and the insides of seashells. I love the horizon, the wind, and the clouds. I love wide open spaces and waves and sea grass. And I love collecting images of these things with my camera and combining them on the canvas with materials I touch every day, like fabric from a pillowcase or an old dress, or paper from a random piece of mail. Fusing these elements into one image becomes a reflection on the essence of these things and our coexistence.

Curiosity deepens relationship. Painting helps me ask, What is rooted and heavy? What floats light as air? This type of inquiry helps us look at nature in different ways and ask, « What is here? » It is part of an ongoing practice in forgetting what we think we know so that we can truly see and feel this world in the brief time we are here. When we feel into the nature of things, we discover that it is hard to find where one thing ends and another begins. Thich Nhat Hanh called this idea "interbeing." He observed that things "inter are." All things arise together and cannot exist without one another. If we are able to connect with this truth, each of us individually, maybe we will be able to live differently on this planet collectively. This is my own way of practicing that connection. Combining seashells and bits of clothing, I ask "What is the difference between my world and yours?" Placing wood patterns next to brush strokes, I ask "What do you have to show me?" In the water is the mirror image of the sky. Clouds, water and earth become one, joined with this body and life we are given. It is a process of both presence and play, a way of accessing other ways of knowing. This is my baby talk in learning the language of the world.

It is my hope that sharing these works and the creative processes that helped to make them will inspire people to their own inquiry and their own ways of looking deeper into nature and the things they love.

- M.


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