A Piece of Dust in the Great Sea of Matter
Four years ago, I suffered an injury that significantly limited my mobility for over a year. This injury instigated my interest in depictions of the body, and I began researching images of the human figure in the landscape. After wading through historical and contemporary works depicting passive female figures, often exposed to the elements and unnaturally posed against landscape backdrops, I decided to make images that critically engage conventional aesthetic associations between women and nature.
The project title, A Piece of Dust in the Great Sea of Matter, is an amalgam of textual fragments extracted from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. Reading these journal entries throughout my rehabilitation, I found resonance between Plath’s continuous expression of feeling confined and women’s confinement through representation. Sidestepping the visual tropes traditionally used when depicting women in the landscape, the photographs illustrate a desire to engage with the natural world through intentional, subject-driven participation.
In contrast to traditional figure studies or portraits, the work follows a series of protagonists (portrayed by members of my community, including fellow artists, colleagues, and former teammates) through natural spaces, such as forests, lakes, prairies, and coastlines. The relationship between these women and their experience of their surroundings is grounded in their individual physicality. The protagonists demonstrate their agency as subjects by actively inhabiting these places; often integrated within the landscape, at times becoming engrossed with, struggling against, or even finding refuge in, their surroundings.