In my ceramic sculpture, I have been exploring American ideas of nature and how technology has changed our perceptions of nature. Besides the obvious advantages technology may bring to our lives, there lie unintended consequences and underlying messages behind every creation that forever change our perceptions, our social interactions and our relationship to nature. The word nature itself has become an overused term in our present ideology to the degree it has altogether lost its meaning. What is nature exactly? How do we perceive and define it, and why? In Webster’s dictionary nature is defined as, “something in its essential form untouched and untainted by human hand”. Here lies the crux of my narrative. At the very heart of our own description of nature we exclude ourselves from it and place human beings outside of nature. In America we hold tightly to this dualistic view. A view that has created two separate worlds – the human made world and the non-human made world – or in other words the dichotomy between culture and nature. The way we perceive nature speaks volumes about the way we perceive ourselves and becomes a major component in defining what it means to be human at this precise moment in history. A place that embodies our most ideal perception of nature is wilderness. Speaking of wilderness William Cronon wrote, “For Americans wilderness stands as the last remaining place where civilization, that all too human disease, has not fully infected the earth. It is an island in the polluted sea of urban-industrial modernity, the one place we can turn for escape from our own too-muchness.”
Paradoxically, from our ‘own too-muchness’ our ideas of wilderness are conceived. I have come to realize my own appreciation for nature has come from the culture of which I belong. Ultimately, ideas of nature and/or wilderness are human constructs ever changing through human cultures at different moments in history. Presently, It is time to rethink our perceptions of nature, culture, wilderness and civilization, and perhaps we may once again reinstate our own naturalness and, one day, find balance between the planet and ourselves. Ultimately, in doing so we may come to a better realization of what it means to be human at this present time.