Returning to finish my BFA in 2013 I incorporated my interest in the environment with the necessities of the courses, reading scientific papers on climate change, biodiversity loss, and ocean degradation. Lynn White’s essay “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” got me thinking about a need for a change in the way we view our connection to the world. To better understand what I was reading about I volunteered at Un poco del Chocó – a biological reserve in Ecuador and Esperanza Verde – a wildlife rescue centre in the Amazon basin in Peru. In 2016 I spent a month at each of these places helping with general logistics while incorporating a self-directed residency where I interacted with scientists, took care of animals, hiked, painted, photographed and wrote about my experiences daily.
While at Un poco del Chocó, one afternoon I was painting a river valley zigzagging through the biological reserve, when a pattern of growth emerged. It was something like a photograph in a time lapse stretching back centuries. I could discern where landslides occurred, where trees have fallen, and where people burned away the forest to make room for pasture. The seemingly static hill suddenly changed, its slow flow became perceptible in my imagination. The abstract notion of reality as process became evident in the environment around me, I saw nature as a space of flows. Returning to Toronto I painted watercolour landscapes based on my photographs, combining abstraction and representation with the use of negative space depicting environments as dynamic, interconnected and complex systems of ecological, human and universal processes.