Frontyard Zoo: Owning Nature

Assistant Professor Roscoe Landon Wilson
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Lawn ornaments represent how disconnected the average person truly is from nature. Many people surround themselves with these kitsch, cute, controllable, and lifeless creatures. These fake ornamental plastic animals stare blankly into the distance, destined never to move, unless blown over by the wind or removed by the owner. Lawn ornaments represent a fascination with controlling nature in every way possible. People control where nature is allowed to exist and with lawn decorations, how we want it to look. These decorations are designed to look harmless, smaller than life, clean, and most of all cute. People are ignorant of true nature. Bears are not huggable and deer do not come with permanent smiles. At first this seems like a trivial and minute problem, but it represents a larger and more meaningful issue, humankind’s disconnected relationship to nature. The main theme that I have been concerned with for the last several years is the dynamic relationship that mankind has with nature and their surrounding environments. This theme is consistent throughout all of my work. Nature is idealized and often times depicted as sublime or virginal. Through my artwork and research, I am trying to understand this ideal and sometimes surreal misconnection that contemporary society has with the natural world. Where does this misconnection begin and why is it propagated so readily in our culture? Where does the apathy originate? Through visual media, I am investigating the reasons behind our misconnection to our surrounding environments and our apathy toward nature. I want to reconnect people with where they are, what they are doing, and where we are all going.

Keywords: Painting, Sculpture, Environmentalism, Nature
Stream: Analysing Artforms
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Frontyard Zoo

Assistant Professor Roscoe Landon Wilson

Assistant Professor of Art, Department of Art, Miami University

Many of my environmental values I have now as an adult were shaped when I was a child living in the Midwestern United States. Growing up in a mostly rural area, I was able to grow with nature and discover mysteries that only a forest, lake, and field can offer. I have a profound respect for the earth and its systems and want to portray this respect in my visual artwork. All of my work deals with various facets of environmental issues and some of it is made exclusively with reused, found materials. By reusing materials that were previously discarded, I am acting on a personal ethic by which I live everyday. Consumerism is a natural attribute of the human condition. We consume to live and there is no way to change that fact, but we can be more conscientious about what, why, and how much we consume and waste, even as artists.

Ref: A06P0318