What happens when our children grow up more familiar with the artificial worlds created from pixels and electrons than the forest kingdoms and Terabithias that so many of us knew in our youth?
In the images, installations, and video I’ve produced for this series, I sublimated my impotent frustrations over my son's desire to constantly be tethered to his phone or to play video games by reframing his activities in a context of forests and fields, not sitting in front of his computer. To pull the curtain back on my son’s early teen-hood, would be to reveal him rigorously engaged in a world of electronic gadgets.
I must admit, I too, spend a lot of time on my smartphone and tablet. Yet shouldn’t we be spending more time experiencing nature? I know this inherently, and can turn to science to back this primal knowledge: recent studies reveal the importance of connecting with the natural world, beginning in the early years, to ensure social, emotional, and physical health.
Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience the natural world has changed dramatically. Even as teenagers become more aware of global threats to the environment, their physical contact and intimacy with nature is fading. Urban, suburban, and even rural parents cite a number of reasons why their children spend less time in nature than they themselves did, including disappearing access to natural areas, and competition from television and computers.
In Mother:Nature I present an alternate version of my son's childhood that speaks to underlying fears of the natural world; anxieties that come about as a direct result of competing technological experiences over being outdoors, and urban planning that has left out communal safe spaces for kids to explore and connect with nature.
'Sticks' show review by Tiffany Fox [January 29, 2016]
"What happens when our children grow up more familiar with the artificial worlds created from pixels and electrons than the forest kingdoms and Terabithias that so many of us knew in our youth? My dear friend Rebecca Louise Webb's exhibition at the San Diego Art Institute (which is shown along with kindred spirit Jesse Burke's film and photography) is a must-see for anyone who feels the inner-outer tug of both vines and wires. The tree fort she incorporates was borrowed from a Eucalyptus grove at UCSD -- a refuge from the built world just across the canyon slope where both Rebecca and I work. And the way my friend uses light in her film and photos will seem at times like doom, and at times like a dawning of something new. See it for the price of the $5 admission before it closes on Feb. 7. It will make you think, and feel, and wonder, and want to take a walk in the woods."