Mother We Will Not Forsake You '14 - '22
Mother We Will Not Forsake You- 2014 - 2022
Intellectually we all know Earth is our only home. And yet, we go about our daily lives as if we are not on the precipice of an environmental tipping point. I started doing artwork about the global environmental crisis occasionally, usually after a horrible oil spill, or a very hot summer. This series of oil, ink brush paintings and rotating double -sided scrolls is entitled “Mother We Will Not Forsake You”. It is not a Mother/Father deity that has forsaken us. It is us forsaking our magnificient mother earth. This series has helped me confront the awful truths of our threatened world without becoming overwhelmed. Sometimes I focus on the “some small part of it,”(1) such as, a small part of the the Chesapeake Bay and the fields around me that are developed and stripped of their diversity. Other times, I imaginatively travel further afield and envision the mythological Greek goddess, Artemis, who aims her long wood bow at methane polluters and an oil corporate company that has known for half a century to devistating effect of carbor pollution but promoted a campaign of misinformation about global warming.
Artemis is a feminine archetype. She is idealized both as a protector of pregnant women and children, and a huntress destroying those who attempt to defile her or, harm those she loves. Her bow is for righteous retribution. The two-sided scroll, “Slayer of Methane Monsters – Protector of Life” contemporizes this myth. She fights to protect her Polar Bear cubs (side A), now threatened by melting Arctic ice and aims her bow at the worse US methane polluters identified within a glowing circular globe (side B). “Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe” Artemis points her bow outward. You may be standing in its path. A fireboat makes a futile attempt to contain a burning oil tanker, silhouettes of falling sleepwalkers from the melting Antarctic ice sheet and a spewing oil processing plant, all contribute to a scene that is ironically, frighteningly beautiful.
Closer to home, I focus on The Chesapeake Bay and suburban development. I have been influenced by two poems “Mother of the Bay” by Dr. Michael Salcman(2) and “Death of a Field” by Paula Meehan.(3)
The Chesapeake Bay is the Mother of all bays. Once her waters held huge oyster beds that continuously cleansed it. Now the Mother of all bays is riddled with dead zones. As poet, Salcman penned…
Not too many think of her now
in the old Indian way—say Susquehanna slowly
and what you hear is Mother of the Bay;
she comes with poison today
gathered from coalfields, blooming algae
in silt and debris, trapping oyster and crab
in nitrate and shale, drowning life in life.(4)
Despite decades of supposed concerted efforts to stop agricultural and housing development runoff, the latest Chesapeake Bay 2021 environmental report card has minimally change since 1986. (5) Of course the dangers to the bay are not only from pollution. Climate change is altering water temperature and salinity thus stressing native marine species.
Relentlessly the development around the Chesapeake continues. Fields are lost and runoff speeds pollutants to the Bay’s tributaries. The Field itself nourishes myriad life forms casually wiped out when it becomes subdivided lots. Meehan’s poem “Death of a Field”(6) enumerates how the meadow’s life is diminished and replaced with a…
“…Nest of sorrow and chemical, cargo of joy
The end of dandelion is the start of Flash
The end of dock is the start of Pledge
The end of teasel is the start of Ariel
The end of primrose is the start of Brillo
The end of thistle is the start of Bounce
The end of sloe is the start of Oxyaction
The end of herb Robert is the start of Brasso
The end of eyebright is the start of Persil
Who amongst us is able to number the end of grasses
To number the losses of each seeding head?”(7)
Now is the time we have long denied: the unbearably hot summers, monster hurricanes and blizzards, polluted and rising oceans, glacial and permafrost melts, state size forest fires, blanched coral reefs, and all too many species’ die-offs. Let’s not lose hope. By quickly installing green technology we can flourish and preserve our Earth, our Garden of Eden. Only then, we can say Mother Earth We Have Not Forsaken You.
1. quote Wendell Berry
2. Michael Salcman M.DNecessary Speech: New & Selected Poems, Spuyten Duyvil, New York, 2022
3. Paula Meehan. Painting Rain, Wake Forest University Press, Winston-Salem, NC, 2009
4. Salcman, Ibid, p190
5. https://ecoreportcard.org/report-cards/chesapeake-bay/bay-health/ Moderate ecosystem health (C). The overall Chesapeake Bay scored a 50%, a five percent increase over last year’s score.
6. Meehan, Ibid p13