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Extinction of Experience


Extinction of Experience: The Work of Eileen Powell
January 29th—February 26th, 2009

Everyday I am amazed and awed by the beauty and complexity of the natural world. I also recognize that humankind is dependent on a healthy and functioning environment for our physical wellbeing, which requires us to control and use nature for our ends. However, I am concerned by the disconnected and callous way that these activities often take place. When examining my thoughts regarding this situation more closely, three interrelated themes—beauty, control, and loss of nature—emerge as integral to my artistic exploration and examination of humanity’s relationship to the web of life.

My sculptures explore these themes by contrasting organic clay forms with manmade materials such as ropes, chains, cable, nets or monofilament. Often these organic sculptural forms are bound, wrapped, entangled, or in some way struggling against a physical force of great size, scale, and magnitude that symbolizes human’s domination over nature.

My work also seeks to reveal the emotion of loss by enlightening the viewer to the nonexistent, the absent, the silhouette, or the impression of what was once there. The ghost white clay references a faint memory or spirit of the beautiful places, creatures, and experiences forever lost as well as a warning sign of what may pass if we do not feel, consider, and act.

By presenting sculptures at scales equal to or larger than the audience, I seek to create an environment that promotes direct physical and emotional interaction. This interaction compels viewers to consider the magnitude and seriousness of species loss as they weave through and around the installations. My hope is my art will awaken viewers to the remarkable splendor and uniqueness wild creatures give to our planet.

Ultimately I am creating a visual statement of my views and thoughts regarding the beauty, struggle, and loss of species in hopes of inspiring an emotive understanding of the importance nature has to our quality of life; not only our physical well being, but also our emotional health. Author Robert Pyle warns that an “extinction of experience” would have dire consequences. Landscapes will lose meaning without the creatures that define them and our world will become lonely and silent without other life.
—Eileen Powell, 2009