Nature is Healing2023
Originating with the phrase “Nature is Healing” (which gained popularity as a hashtag during the global COVID-19 lockdown), this installation explores the way many different sites of human absence are heralded as ironic victories of nature’s resilience. Nuclear waste sites, de-militarized zones, forests studded with unexploded grenades, contested borders, military training grounds, and sites of extreme pollution; these locations provide the stage for shifting definitions sickness and health, safety and danger, isolation and abundance, and the complexity of finding the “silver lining” in catastrophe.
This project focuses specifically on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation just outside Richland, Washington, which produced the plutonium for the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, and is now the costliest environmental cleanup in American history. It’s also a wildlife refuge and national park known for its elk populations, cottontail and jackrabbits, and highly prized sagebrush habitat.
Leveraging the material and visual overlap between hospital settings and nuclear control rooms, the project unpacks the idea of “healing” through diagnostic x-rays about radiation poisoning, the bioremediation capacities of sunflowers as get-well balloons, protective yellow leaded “glass” over collages and a chunk of glass referencing plans to use vitrification (a molten glass process) to store radioactive waste, neon-pink spray paint used to tag radioactive rabbits and tumbleweeds, and silver mylar emergency blankets.
Collages, mylar balloons, silver mylar emergency blankets, cottontail and jackrabbit taxidermy forms, tumbleweed, glass, yellow acrylic, hot-pink spray paint, plastic storage drum, x-ray lightbox, x-ray prints, hospital curtain, fake flowers, screen captures of #NatureIsHealing posts from 2020
Installation of "Nature is Healing" at Buckham Gallery, Flint Michigan.
Photos by Matt Gubancsik.