My art today reflects a life-path that traverses some of the most extreme natural and intellectual environments on Earth. It is an origin story of sequential transformations.
With the earliest inclinations of a wild child, I roamed the residual patchwork of backwoods, baywaters and cranberry bogs of coastal New England. Ingesting the light and loam of these habitats instilled a phenomenology of belonging still palpable today. Even as I write these words, the smell of pine-duff warming in the sun, the glacial grit between my teeth, and the chill of winter-wet socks permeate my senses. Instead of attending high school, I worshiped the fecund Atlantic. Her green pelagic pulses thwarted any academic ambitions. Surfing was my religion and I prayed daily.
Before the rhythms of maturity could set in, my sea ilk landed me on the deck of a commercial fishing trawler. At least until that day, on Stellwagen Bank, when an 800-pound bluefin tuna somehow spoke to me. A dying eye rekindled this inner child’s affections for creatures and the communication sparked a curiosity that carried me around the world. Learning nature’s language eventually transformed me into a scientist. Touching the bottom of the well of science, I discovered no secret mandate or means to explain the whispers I still hear daily between “inner” and “outer” worlds.
I left science believing that humanity has lost an effable experience of continuity between what’s personal and natural. Without which, we fail to respond appropriately to the many maladies that define the Anthropocene. True ecological restoration is a psychic task asking us to first heal an inherited schism from nature. This requires more than science. This requires emotion, belonging, gratitude and love. This requires art.
Today I seek to create and activate a new kind of ameliorative art, and a movement that can change the climate of our minds. The wild-child, surfer and the scientist I am, and the artist I have become, reflect the path of an accidental shaman. But common to all these roles is a first-person immersion in the living liminality of Earth. This makes me, above all, an Earthling.