In Nirivilo, Chile, nature communicated a silent understanding: everything is connected. Here, the Earth’s surface was marked with striations of blackened tree stumps and charred craters, akin to human footprints. The craters appeared endless. I reached down into one of the holes but found the fire had turned the complex root system into a labyrinth of tunnels. From these dark voids, supple saplings emerged in vibrant green and orange hues. I stood on that mountainside and grappled with how this experience in nature had enabled me to develop a multi-disciplinary visual language. There were rudimentary structures found in biological environments that mimicked the patterns of our internal networks. The immersive installations created spaces for communication between Santiago and Chile.
Our greatest deficiency is the inability to realize we are all the same. When we observer how biological systems behave, we see that we work within one limit, Earth. Inspired by systems theory and the changes in ecological patterns in Nirivilo, I created visual ethnographies that behave like constantly transforming, self-organized systems. I focus on the tactile and sensory nature of the painting or sculpture. Deeply moved by artists such as Anselm Kiefer and Ernesto Neto, I experimented often, adding dust, stone, sand, and minerals onto the surfaces.
In the climate of divided rhetoric, there is a need to use the language of materiality to form a network that guides the public to a place of communication and connection. Materials are the catalysts to changes in our perception. Textiles, lights, paper, and earth each communicate a broader understanding of the systems found in the biological context of Nivirilo and placed next to the conceptual context of the population here in Santiago.
Above all, we make decisions and take actions primarily based on our emotions. Scientists need better ways of communicating vital information about the environment with the public. Art impacts emotions more effectively than statistics and news reports. Therefore, if the work is the connector between the data and the public. Therefore, we feel and empathize with the urgency of now and, consequently, take action. As an artist living and working in Santiago. I have been deeply impacted by the efforts of Chile to combat the global climate crisis. However, as our climate efforts improve, there still exists a need for education. I believe it is through community-engaged activities centered around art that inspires action. Change begins from the individual and moves onto a collective and national understanding. As a result, the community becomes more aware of the individual role in nature and the challenges we face to solve with respect to the biological systems surrounding Santiago.
Nirivilo, Chile in April 2017, four months after wildfires engulfed the terrain. Pictured left image of a home surrounded by damaged trees. Image right: blacked root system as a result of the heat of the fires.