Seeing Green

Welcome to my explorations of art and our environment.

You are also invited to visit Living Green, a companion page that showcases ways I reduce my carbon footprint.

Seeing Green, 2012 - Objects found at the beach, Gorilla Glue

Enjoy the presentation below to understand the origin of these sea glasses.

I love working with raw natural elements.  Poisonous Pokeweed berries, once used for ink and dye, are one of my favorites.  Pressing a stem of berries into my sketch book altered every page.

Heart of the Matter, 2019 - Fresh and ripe Pokeweed berries printed in sketchbook

Reverse evolution.

Below is a Zentangle artwork drawn with Pokeweed ink and feather quill. I loved the imprecision of using the feather.  Occasionally, a chunk of mashed berry would become lodged inside my quill, leading to thick, explosive lines.  I created a time lapse video of the drawing.

Berries for Ink, Feather for Pen, 2012 - Zentangle drawing using mashed Pokeweed berries

Working as a photojournalist, in 1989 I traversed the 48 contiguous states documenting the most polluted places in the United States.  An eye-opening experience, to say the least.  Driving into Baton Rouge at sunset, I pulled my car over, stood on the roof and captured iconic images.

 Refinery, Baton Rouge, LA, 1989 - Scanned 35mm color transparency film
Documenting Superfund sites and poisonous chemical factories deepened my love for the earth.  A few years later, I balanced my paid photography with spending time creating a seasonal photojournal of Walden Pond in Concord MA.  The journals Henry David Thoreau wrote while living at Walden Pond became his classic 1854 tome: Walden; or, Life in the Woods.

Fern, Walden Pond, 1992 - 35mm black and white film

In 2019, I read The Overstory by Richard Powers, another book that leads one to want to lie on earth and honor the natural world then shout "Wake Up!" from the rooftops.

Imagine there is no electricity. There are billions of non users of energy on the planet.  Join them for a minute, an hour or a day.  I dismantled an old computer in order make instruments and block print the components.

Motherboard and Hard Drive, 2012 - Block printed obsolete computer parts

Video made in 2013:

My film Cycles of Sustainability - A Horse-Powered Farm Nourishes the Land and Community won the 2014 Pioneer Valley Transitions Towns Film Festival. The organic farm is located in Conway, MA. Instead of using tractors that run on non-renewable petroleum, the work horses "run" on hay.  Rather than using petroleum based fertilizers, the horse manure is transformed into fertilizer for the crops

Speaking of sustainability (or not): Taking a break from viewing an exhibition devoted to artists' creations pertaining to stark environmental issues, I noticed the extreme automation of a men's room at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art.  How much electricity was required?  How many microprocessors?  How many dollars for the hi-tech equipment?  What expense for maintenance and repair?  Where were the devices constructed and shipped from?

A collaborative student block printed artwork hangs on a frame constructed from a discarded wooden pallet:

Ode to Kente by American International College Students, 2019 - Block print
It seemed like the perfect sustainability art project at American International College: deconstruct a discarded wooden pallet, cut the boards and make frames for student artwork. What could go wrong? Everything was fine until we found out from environmental engineer Ellen Moyer that the wood may be toxic!

Holding large corporations accountable for damaging the environment is a must.  But what role do we play?  The EPA estimates that Americans spill 17 million gallons of gas filling their lawnmower tanks every year.  Compare that with the 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez.  Lawnmower industry lobbyists fight any hint of regulating the prolific polluters.

Several of my photographs were featured in a 2011 art show in Hartford titled:  Nature Nourishes.  In keeping with exhibition theme, I used brass tacks to attach my images to plywood, in lieu of fancy frames, mats and glass.

Like Butter (Sunrise Over the Connecticut River), Turners Falls, MA, 2010
 Print from digital photograph, mounted on plywood with brass tacks
I aim to foster a producer (rather than a consumer) mindset in my students.  I model how found objects contain value.

(Un)Raveling, 2015 - Mesh, rope and partial Horseshoe Crab, all found on Duxbury Beach

I did a Zentangle Drawing using pickled beet juice and a feather. Watch the process.

Beet Juice and Feather, 2021

My film I Oppose the Pipeline won the 2016 Pioneer Valley Transitions Towns Film Festival.  Yes, the pipeline was stopped.  For now.

I am engaged in the creative process of developing an artistic way to visually express the oxygen cycle, the cycle of trees exhaling oxygen for humans and humans exhaling carbon dioxide for trees.  This visual attempt is admittedly not clear.  However, I was honored to participate in a student organized Climate Strike in Greenfield, MA

At a workshop for art educators, I showed this image as I explained the importance of just taking time to make art, even if it is not perfect:

The Oxygen Cycle, 2019 - Paint, cardboard, screws, discarded trim
Sometimes the signs of climate change creep up on us and we mindlessly accept the change and damage. Creative Process:

Creeping Normality, 2015 - Collage, digital photography, typewritten text, reclaimed driveway sand

Dave Nichols runs his Ford F150 on wood.  Click for full story.

Dave Nichols with his Biomass Powered Ford F150, Boston, MA, 2009 - Digital Photograph

More printing explorations in 2016, creating honeycomb patterns on birchbark with mashed blueberries and raspberries.

From the above explorations, I wound up with some lovely blueberry stained paper which became this artwork, exhibited in a local cultural council exhibit on the theme of Changing.

"Remember, technology is a great servant, but a terrible master."
- Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

(d)evolution, 2016 - Paper, raspberry and blueberry juices, obsolete computer chip,
reclaimed computer wire, fresh strawberry box, hot glue

Since 2010, I have taken an annual three week internet fast.  Details of my first fast in 2010. Here are some tactile responses to the experiences.

Blocked Internet, 2015 - Collage on wood
Read about them here.

Life's Over, or Just Beginning? 2015 - 2016
Here is an image I photographed of my hand to market as stock photography.  Seeing green.  Touching green.

A 49 year old caucasian man holds a fern in the woods - 2008, Digital Photograph

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