Deborah Mitchell continues her constant exhibition schedule with yet another opportunity to inhabit the same space as these forces of nature in the guise of art. Thursday September 17th is the reception date for Recently Acquired, a group exhibition lasting through October 10th at Miami Dade College, Kendall Campus, Miami, Fl.
Using recycled wood as my canvas, I combine photographs, text, painting, sculpture and found objects to create a multi-sensory experience for the viewer. My work explores man’s relationship with plants, animals, and their land, and was inspired by my 2007 Artist in Residence position at The Big Cypress National Preserve. Given the fragile state of our planet, my goal is to produce a body of work that inspires people to examine, respect and preserve the environment with a renewed sense of purpose.
During the Residency, I was allowed to explore the Big Cypress by airboat, helicopter, ATV, kayak and unmarked trails, armed only with a Nikon and a journal, documenting the daily occurrences in the area and pondering deforestation and loss of habitat. Afterwards, I continued to explore and interpret everything related to South Florida, the Everglades and the complex relationship between the two. The subjects found in my work encourage the viewer to marry nature with human instinct. I want the viewer to see and feel the magic of the Everglades by touching my pieces, by reading the text and by admiring the resiliency of the people and the savage delicacy of the plants and animals. The viewer gets an intimate, book-like journey through the “swamp” in our back yard.
Although it has been a struggle to mix being a professional artist with motherhood, the experience has strengthened my resolve to bring attention to how we as humans, treat the Earth. I have tried to explain the importance of our daily choices to my son while on hikes in National Parks, and he, in turn, helps me see things as if for the first time. That is why I have constructed these pieces. I feel that if children can relate to my work, then an adult may remember what is what like to see an eagle for the first time, and how important it is to be in touch with their surroundings. That is also why I feel that it is important to use every medium at hand (sculptures made from found objects, photography, stamps, painting, sand, etc.) in creating these pieces. This helps demonstrate that we needn’t only construct “art” in studios or see it in galleries, as the possibility to perceive beauty is constantly present. I use all of the things that evoke my wonderment at a particular moment in time, whether knee deep in a slough or talking to one of the original “Gladesmen” who lived a life we no longer know, much less understand.
Stretching both the geographical and ideological boundaries of my domain will undoubtedly energize my creative output in the future. There is still so much more to discover, and through my work I seek to share the very essence of these exciting field experiences.
For more information about the Artist in Residence program at the Big Cypress National Preserve please contact Bob_Degross@nps.gov