While I know much of the United States has had a brutal winter this year, she arrived late here in the Pacific Northwest. And then in February, we made up for lost time and got a whole season’s worth of snow and freezing temps in a matter of weeks. It’s moments like this that send me right back into the wonder and awe that brought me to study ecology over 20 years ago. Nature amazes, inspires, humbles, and grounds me in a way that nothing else can. And only now am I beginning to understand this fascination in a completely new light.
“An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language.” ~Henry Matisse
I believe we all have this deep visceral longing to realign ourselves with the natural world. And although some of us live lives that would have us believe otherwise; we are of the earth. We are mammals. We are creatures – very much a part of this earth and its complex web of life. And like all other living things on this planet, what affects one of us, affects us all. I’m not just talking about the weather, and peak oil, and freshwater shortages. No, I really believe it goes much, much deeper than that. And a part of us knows this… in our bones. In our DNA. In our intuition. There’s a deep inner nagging there…
Recently in one of my Art Night Out classes, I asked the question, “When do you feel most connected?” And you know what almost 90% of the room said? That’s right. “In nature.”
And yet… how much time to actually spend in nature? Do you notice what the birds are telling you? How often do you spend observing, noticing, listening, and connecting with the natural world. If you’re like most of us, the stillness and patience it takes to slow down and listen to it is, well, too slow for our fast-paced lives. Yet we all crave it. Ask anyone and they’ll say they wish they had more time. They wish they could spend more time in nature. They wish they could meditate more, or simply take a break.
I have spent years working in ecology and natural resource management. I have gone deep into the study of natural systems.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to never underestimate Mother Nature. Just when you think you understand the beauty and balance and interconnectedness of it all, she reveals yet another layer of the system to you.
That goes for us too. We are hardwired to help maintain the balance found in nature. Humans do everything we can to resist this wiring, but it’s still in there. Why do you think people flock to the beach at sunset? Why do we turn our face to the sun on a beautiful day? Why do we love cut flowers? How about the way we feel when we hear the wind blowing through the trees? Or our attraction to flowing water? It’s in our DNA. We know deep in our bones that we feel grounded by these things. It makes us feel like everything is okay. We’re okay. We’re connected.
Where am I going with all of this? Basically, it comes down to this. I think many of us are drawn to the sciences or drawn to art because both strive to make sense of the world around us. For me, the natural world is a visual expression of the wonder that is the animating force or energy that connects us all.
And THAT is the juice.
That’s what I’m really interested in.
I believe the common link between art and nature is a desire to not just understand how the world works – but to share it.
It’s that deep rooted connection to it and to all living things – that source energy that we all share. Those biological urges, the innate wisdom, and subconscious callings that pull us forward and toward certain activities, people, places, etc. I want to explore THAT. And I want my work – whether it be artwork, experiences, or other actions – to help remind others to honor that part of ourselves and each other. Because I believe when we elevate our awareness of this interconnection, nothing but empathy, kindness, and love can come from it. And who doesn’t want more of that in the world?