BONFIRE is a collection of 21 artworks which express my growing concern for the Earth, a concern which started burning in 1971. I lived on the west coast at the time. Clear-cutting trees and the destruction of the spotted owl habitat were big news. Because of Rachel Carson’s influential Silent Spring in 1962, the public had become more aware of environmental issues, concern about air pollution, water pollution, solid waste disposal, dwindling energy resources, radiation and pesticide poisoning. Silent Spring exposed a collusion between government and corporations in ignoring their dangerous polluting effects to the detriment of human well-being.
In 1971, I began my first body of work, SEARCH FOR IDENTITY---THE AGE OF INNOCENCE. I was making fiber sculptures which celebrated Nature. These sculptures were to be used in imaginary dances, rites and rituals. Some were fetishes to be idolized, some were dance wands. The last ones I made in 1985 were to be worn on the head. Those were Hair Hats, so named because they were made of horse hair and goat hair, both of which are very scratchy and very uncomfortable to wear. I was focused on corporate greed. I saw the Hats as a way to punish people who did not honor and take care of Nature.
The fire slow-burned for years until August 5, 2015 when there was a video on CNN of the Animus River Spill caused by the EPA workers in Colorado. The sight of the orangey-brown mining pollutants turning the blue color of the river orange was one of those transcendent moments in my life. The Animus River flows through the Navaho Reservation and on into the Bay of California. I suddenly visualized all the environmental accidents and the accumulation of pollutants. Now, I see these events as crimes against Nature…..of which I am a part. Yes, I hope that my artwork changes the way people view the world, just as the video changed mine. These are events which could have been prevented. I propose that corporations and businesses spend more of their earnings on accident prevention, pollution prevention and less on giant CEO salaries and bonuses.
Maybe my artwork will be dug up sometime in the future. Technology may be so different that we can’t play CDs, computers will be obsolete and paper disintegrated. Maybe all we will have are actual art objects which explain what happened. If I accomplish nothing else, I am going to document some of the crimes of my time, just like many artists have done throughout history, (i.e. Picasso’s Guernica).