Nature is my religion and artistic inspiration. Childhood memories didn’t include church on Sundays. The natural world doesn’t discriminate by race, gender, or sexual orientation. This physical and spiritual resource can be experienced by all thanks to the National Park Service. A world without Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon is unimaginable and bankrupt.
Last Fall, I saw an art call exploring the Organic Art of 1916 resulting in the establishment of the National Park Service. The exhibit would be held at the David Brower Center in Berkeley with selections made by jurors Dr. Stephanie Hanor (Director of Mills College Art Museum), Katrina Traywick (Director of Traywick Contemporary), Laurie Rich (Executive Director of the David Brower Center) and Sean Uyehara (Director of Programs of the Headlands Center for the Arts). I had visited the Center in the past with late artist Susan O’Malley for lectures by Maya Lin, Rick Lowe, and Cheryl Haines.
After an artist residency at the Sam D. Hamilton and Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi, the experience explored a familial connection to its land with my great grandmother’s Native American roots. The history of my ancestors greeted at sunrise and provided newfound wisdom at sunset. This would become my foundation.
Applying to the David Brower Center exhibit with a current inventory artwork just wouldn’t do. I had just recorded audio from an high-end art auction in which Native American artifacts were bid and sold on. With a deadline quickly approaching, my husband, golden retriever, and I journeyed to Yosemite. Capturing the movement of the park’s falls cascading over massive rock formations was my goal.
My art investigates diverse cultures and relationships between manmade and natural environments. Fascinated by flight or disorientation and its patterns, I merge together disparate events and experiences to create new narratives. JBV.12.15.2630 documents the movement of Yosemite Falls. The sounds are from a Native American Art auction in San Francisco. The audio features the sale of an Apache tray and Plateau beaded bags that mimic the patterns of Yosemite’s environment. I question the commercialization and speculative appreciation of objects from America’s original residents. With the upcoming centennial of The Organic Act of 1916 and as remnants become bid and sold on, the National Park enjoyment and protection debate must include its original history.
With over 400 submissions, only 23 pieces were selected including my video for the Common Ground: A celebration of our National Parks exhibit. Art can provide a meaningful dialogue or platform to support nature. The video will be available for a limited edition of 25 (DVD or Flash Drive) for $250 each. 50% of the sale will go directly to the National Park Foundation. A small token to a resource that continues to give more than it receives.
Common Ground: A celebration of our National Parks, David Brower Center, Berkeley, CA, May 20-September 8, 2016.