It was noted that one of the side effects of the pandemic has been the opportunity given to him to reconnect with nature. Many of us who have navigated lockdowns, social distancing and a general reluctance to gather in large, crowded places have found respite and renewal in the natural world. Whether it’s visiting local parks, camping on weekends, or simply spending more time in our own backyards, nature has taken center stage for much of the year and last half.
Of course, the irony of fate is that at the exact moment so many of us discover the richness of flora and fauna around us, we are also bombarded with sobering news about the natural world and nature. impact of human activity on it. . In a report published earlier this monththe UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has taken an unequivocal position and warned of “irreversible changes and more rapid warming that will only be limited by immediate, rapid reductions and large-scale greenhouse gas emissions”.
Nature, it seems, needs all the help (and allies) it can get.
That’s why it’s so encouraging to see exhibits like Resilience in nature: we are the roses that grew from the concrete be organized and supported. Currently on view at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, this exhibition strives to encourage a connection with the natural world while highlighting the voices and perspectives of black artists. In doing so, it presents a wide variety of nature-themed interpretations, while illustrating the diversity of the natural world and our community.
Organized by Queen Brooks, Richard Duarte Brown, Marshall Shorts, Bettye J. Stull and April Sunami, Resilience in nature features young and established artists working in a variety of mediums.
by Benjamin Crumpler Paradise found #18 features a vast field of light-dappled flowers intertwined with translucent washes and delicate lines reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s shoe designs. Like nature itself, Crumpler’s work rewards careful observation and careful consideration of detail. In his artist statement, Crumpler offers the hopeful assertion that “foliage and its companions are here to stay.”
Jasmine Hill puts a lot in her photo Risen fruit (the title being a nod to the famous anti-lynching song by Billie Holiday strange fruit). Tackling the American history of the lynching of young black men as well as its relationship to photography, Hill crafts a decidedly new and more optimistic narrative. In Risen fruit it redefines the relationship between young black people and trees and offers a vision of hope for the future. Accompanied by his photo resilient tulipHill exemplifies nature’s ability to inspire wonder and reminds us that today’s youth are perhaps nature’s best hope.
In soul sisters, Asya Shine makes the connection between humans and nature literal while highlighting the importance of braiding in black history. Using braided kanekalon hair and natural wheat, Shine creates a pair of “portraits” that function both as abstractions, but also as something very real. The richness of deep blacks on a pure white background, along with the patterns of wheat and braids create a vivid, complex and powerful presentation.
Honeycomb collective, a striking multimedia work by Kenya Davis, is a rich blend of natural textures, colors and shapes. Noting that while his organic patterns and materials are drawn from the natural world, the artist clarifies that our own communities were very present in his mind in this work. Davis writes in his statement, “…great care must be taken to preserve the bond of transformative activity taking place in our bustling neighborhoods to continue the collective legacy of strength and hope.”
This is perhaps as good a summary of Resilience in nature that we might encounter. It is an exhibition that shares strength and shares hope and asks that we do the same. It connects us to nature, to our communities and to each other. We will need all of these connections and more over the next few years.
Resilience in nature: we are the roses that grew from the concrete is on view at Frankling Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens until November 28, 2021. For more information, visit fpconservatory.org.
All photos by Jeff Regensburger