Monday, October 31, 2005

Ruth Marie Tomlinson's Beauty & Desire

After the sharp turn up toward the woods from the edge of the ravine, the end of an old homesite becomes evident: bottles, the inside drum of a washer, and a homemade concrete threshold printed with hands of varying sizes were left here. Plants also indicate previous domestic life, and the 20 foot hight sprawling laurel marks the entry to Ruth Marie Tomlinson's piece.

Under the shady green canopy are books and specimen envelopes that chronicle several of the non-native plant species introduced to this site, including holly, butterfly bush, laurel and bamboo. The books hold anecdotal and scientific information about the plants, while the specimen envelopes hold a sample leaf backed by paper with the word "desire" or "beauty" in delicate script.

About her work in general Ruth Marie writes, "I have come to view nature as environment, including all the spaces and systems I inhabit and because I am part of these systems, I too, am nature. It has been a gentle but powerful shift from reverence for what is outside and separate, to an acknowledgement of my role within the system. I no longer look at nature as exotic; rather I see it as everyday. It is the grass pushing through my sidewalk and it is the sidewalk and it is the person who put the sidewalk there. It is the goods I buy, the politics I set into motion, as well as the sun raising over the Cascades and setting in the Olympics. This changing view of nature has inspired my interest in a marriage of industrial or man-made materials with forms derived from plants, animals, geology and the elements. It has also driven my interest in making art that creates environment and places the viewer as subject in that work, establishing an environment that revels in ambiguities and complexities of meaning / experience."

Regarding installation of UnderStory, she wrote the following: "Beneath this overgrown laurel hedge, remnant of someone’s careful yard, hangs a collection of preserved plant specimens, all gathered from plants imposed at Pritchard Park. These specimens tell a story of desire and conquest. Hanging books hold field notes documenting the current state of five imposed plant species. Each is a beautifully domestic plant, the desire of a family home, but potentially ruinous to the native environment. The books themselves await ruin, exposed to the elements. This work explores a blurred line between nature and culture. Pritchard Park is full of this ambiguity, the landscape rich with evidence of how much we are part of nature and yet deny our role within a symbiotic system."


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9:46 AM  

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