The Uninvited.  Denver, CO 2021

The Uninvited

 

No one knew what the breeze had in store.

 

One seed,

Two seed,

Three seed,

Four.

 

A foreign invader that is for sure.

 

As they grew they took more and more.

 

Four seed,

Eight seed,

Seeds Galore.

 

Things will never be the way they were before.

 

The landscape they knew, nevermore.


 

Painting this piece took me on a journey through Dandelions and their symbolism. I have found the dandelion is a very nebulous symbol that is really about perspective. My original intent was to create a painting of a weed that complimented my poem “The Uninvited”. I had a more prominent location in mind for the piece to be placed, however, that place was altered, so I decided to place it in a nearby location with similar context. The dandelion was adhered to an electrical box right below the pedestal where a monument to Kit Carson once stood before the protests and riots in June against the systemic racism in America. The statue was removed following public outcry. Once glorified as a hero of western expansion, Kit Carson’s legacy is now entrenched by the cruel and barbaric treatment of Native Americans. Kit was a weed that showed up in the west, causing white settlers to grow in number, taking land and resources that wasn’t theirs at any cost, like the lives of thousands of native people. 

 

But what is a dandelion, how does it function in nature, and how does it symbolize colonialism? 

 

Dandelions are a European flower, not native to the US and brought over during colonialism and westward expansion. They show up uninvited into balanced native ecosystems with roots evolved to go deeper than most other plants allowing them to steal water and nutrients from the native plants, leaving them with less resources to thrive, even killing neighboring plants. They reproduce quickly with seeds that spread in all directions, growing fast, even after being chopped down repeatedly.

 

As  I worked on the piece, I began to realize the dandelion has a plethora of very different meanings. I thought of people who came to protest in June like myself. I thought of all the “othered” groups in America that don’t adhere to its culture of American pride and “whiteness” route in oppression. I started to look at America as this perfect lawn with a white picket fence, a structured garden, an attempt at a mono-culture where only those deemed worthy may be allowed to join, definitely no place for a weed. Yet, they show up anyways, to break the perceived image of perfection. I feel myself and others, those who showed civil disobedience in light of injustice were the weeds, our voices, the seeds, spreading and growing forever changing the gardeners, (the governments), plans for deceiving people of color into oppression, into the deceitful structure it has worked so hard to build, it’s well groomed garden.

 

I do admire Dandelion’s, so it is hard to portray them in a negative light. They are a powerhouse of nutrients. The entire plant is edible. The flower is a high source of vitamin C and antioxidants, the leaves when young taste like Arugula, the roots when dried are great for tea abundant in liver cleansing qualities. They provide a bountiful source of pollen for our dying bee populations and are so bright and plentiful sometimes it seems like they are just asking for our greater attention just like they command that of the bees. 

 

So, what is a dandelion a symbol of? A dandelion is a symbol non-consent and is unsanctioned just like the act of putting up this art - someone will pull this weed eventually. A dandelion is also a symbol of resilience. A dandelion takes more than its fair share from some but a dandelion also provides for others. A dandelion regardless of which context it is in, is largely a symbol of the unwanted.

Overconsumption is Killing Us (2018-Present)

Overconsumption is Killing Us is an unsanctioned street-installation series painted on last chance food and junk advertisements I received weekly in the mail as a commentary on overconsumption and how it correlates with climate change and the destruction of habitats for species in fragile ecosystems, often out of site and mind of humans. The goal of these pieces is to create conversation about the processes preceding and proceeding the food and products we purchase, questioning our personal responsibility to the greater world and the urgency for corporate responsibility.

 

I have placed more that 25 pieces of work internationally in Germany, France, England, the entire west coast of the US and in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland in the mid-Atlantic region.

The Evolution of Overconsumption.

 

Our trash and chemical waste flows into rivers from cities and farms; where there isn’t room in our rivers, large swaths of land became dumps while incinerators burn toxic waste into our skies. Oil is extracted from deep in the earth; dead organic matter, buried by the earth’s natural processes over thousands of years, extracted and spewed out onto the earth, leaking into our water, acidifying the oceans, vaporizing into our skies. Death from a past world, inciting death in our present world. With the invention of petroleum, came plastics, leading to our one time use, throw away culture. Our one time use plastics contain all the products we need to complete our exorcism from our natural environment. We clean our bodies, dishes, clothes, houses in toxic chemicals with artificial scents that ironically represent the world we were once a part of, washing them away down the drain and into our surrounding ecosystems and oceans. In the process of supply and demand, we have created food that purposely doesn’t represent the animals of whom were likely torcherd their entire life, killed, ground up, processed, breaded and fried, then placed in pretty plastic packaging designed to grab our attention and enhanced with everything our brain craves - salt, fat, and sugar.  The separation is almost complete, we don’t have to smell, touch, or eat anything that looks natural, because nature is dirty, nature is unsophisticated, nature is inconvenient.

 

Where did our separatism come from?

 

The Old Testament taught that God gave humans dominion over the earth. After, Christianity was formed as a way of rule and it abolished pagan and indigenous cultures throughout the known world that deemed nature as the supreme force. With that came the euro-centric notion of vast conquest. Setting out into the unknown as the superior, claiming any land and everything on it as their possessions. The oppressed beliefs eventually aligning with their oppressors out of fear. This was the beginning of our now engrained mentality that allows us to so easily and unknowingly disrespect the planet we live on today. Earth, land, sea, air, became considered possessions, realms to conquer, rather than a universal right for all.

 

Thousands of years pass and the industrial revolution began which preceded the current technological revolution. Both spearheaded by corporate identities in collaboration with governments, creating a world in which the dark side of the processes preceding and proceeding our food and goods are hidden from consumers, processes out of harmony with the planet and it’s natural cycles. Goods produced largely by exploitation and cheap labor from  indigenous people the white-western world has labeled as primitive savages living within the biodiverse lands or “hostile environments.” 

 

These processes have gone through so many generations, that our generation is now a victim of circumstance. Born into this throw away lifestyle and it repercussions, the idea of change incites such fear in so many, denial of consequence is a typical first reaction upon realization. A denial made easy because of the shadows cast by corporate powers over the most unsettling parts of the processes preceding and proceeding what we consume from them. The idea that we are the final generation who set off the planet’s next great extinction, possibly our own, and our children’s is so chilling, it is no surprise that a majority of Americans, the inventors of our throw culture, laugh at a 98% scientific consensus that climate change is accelerated by humans. Deep at the core of it, it means each of us, in some way have been responsible for that starving polar bear or that child who has to walk 12 miles for clean water. 

 

We are now in a stage that we are truly seeing the planet as we have known it die... and ourselves. Our dominion is looking more and more like defeat as the planet starts to regulate itself. Our oceans almost unfishable, filled with toxins, our air almost unbreathable during the increasing hot days, our food genetically and chemically engineered, doused in pesticides, killing off the pollinators we need to produce more food. 

 

Our convenient and unconscious capitalist culture is manifesting itself. In our external world, ecosystems are collapsing, mass extinction is ensuing, our presence has become a cancer on earth. But we too, as beings of this planet, reflect our earth. Internally, our new way of life has lead to disease and cancers that seem to exponentially increase with our denial and fears.

 

We must educate and empower ourselves to find a balance with the planet and it’s natural cycles again. We must create a system of corporate responsibility and accountability. We need to advance our conversation into action. 

 

Overconsumption is killing us.

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