Becoming Aware of a Paradox in Nurture

[Artist’s Statement- Tender Landscape, Dalton Galleries, Agnes Scott College. January-March 2004]

The project I am presenting here might be called Becoming Aware of a Paradox in Nurture, and grows out of my ongoing questions about green spaces and what might be done to protect and nourish them. I have come to see two distinct and equally powerful versions of nurture manifesting in the ways concerned people approach urban forests.

Version 1 is what I call additive nurture. This is what I was up to in my Becoming the City that Planted Trees project, working with volunteers to collect acorns, grow them out into seedlings, and reinsert them into urban and suburban Atlanta landscapes where trees were otherwise vanishing. Version 2 is what I call subtractive nurture, and is what my friend Terry Sutton and many others are up to in urban forest renewal around Atlanta. Subtractive nurture rights imbalances which arise in forests invaded by garden escapees such as privet and ivy. Where additive nurture is as intuitive as a mother caring for her child, subtractive nurture is in contrast not a pretty process: there’s a lot of stump- digging, root-ripping & violence involved.

Each form of nurture is essential. Our urban forests, just as our capacity for wholeness, depend on our ability to plant, as to clear, to add, as to remove. On the back wall of the gallery, you are invited to add your account or image of something or someone you have nurtured in these ways.

the following pages include images from harvesting privet with Terry Sutton at Southwest Atlanta's Cascade Spings Nature Preserve and the gallery installation at Agnes Scott College.