Art + Science: Nature and Nurture: Roxanne Darling
It has been medically proven that when immersed within nature, one’s anger, fear and stress tends to melt away. Nature heals. Even placing a plant indoors can bring one closer to nature. For me, being in the mountains, desert and near the ocean, I can find my personal place of sanctuary. Yet, Mother Nature doesn’t just give and give. She, too, requires nurture. This week in Art + Science, I am featuring work that explores the symbiotic relationship that we have with our natural environment, from connections and personal healing to the challenges we face regarding the health of our planet. –Linda Alterwitz
Roxanne Darling is an artist based in New Mexico. In her series I Am: For the Love of Nature she photographs nude self-portraits within the natural environment. To Darling, nature represents a personal place of peace and healing. By staging unclothed self-portraits within her places of sanctuary, she explores themes of both vulnerability and strength. Each photograph is accompanied with a poem written by Darling. There is a genuine cleansing and restorative quality to this work, as the photographs and words together to embrace feelings of freedom and empowerment.
“I AM: For the Love of Nature” are nude self-portraits composed in the Western U.S. at ages 63-66. On the surface, they explore the solitude of the unoccupied landscape. In earlier times, playing in nature provided solace for me during and after childhood trauma.
Women and nature have a lot in common: we are both revered and desecrated, subject to steady demands, yet hungry for respect and appreciation. These wild places encouraged me to explore personal and universal themes — consumerism, debasing things we love, and the issues of waste, trash talk, merchandising, and equating old and abused with useless.
The images are performance pieces where my unclothed body and gestures explore self-acceptance and aging in the sanctuary of the wilderness. My character is vulnerable, while the scenes and accompanying poems contrast fragility and exposure with empowerment. How we care for ourselves is a reflection of how we care for our environment. In the remote and quiet expanse, I listen to nature herself, unearthing power, peacefulness, protection, and the Present.
Roxanne Darling is an artist and writer living in Santa Fe, NM. She works in various media, including photography, ink drawing, painting, video, and conceptual installation. She respects the power of language; words often play a role in her art. Over four decades, she has worked in diverse professions — from marine biologist to ballet dancer to technology advisor — which feed into her creativity as an artist. She’s interested in the restorative powers of nature and how ‘nature deficit disorder’ affects the ways we treat ourselves, each other, and our environs.
Bolder with Boulders by Roxanne Darling
Do you do that dance
between embracing your own desires
but still wanting approval for them?
I’m learning where to go for strength
so I can play with others
instead of needing them.
These rocks are my big brothers.
They invited me and my boldness
to come and take a stand.
So here I am.
65 and In Full Bloom by Roxanne Darling
I was a flower child. Excuse me, I am a flower child. The only settling I’m doing at this age, is into the deep grass surrounded by blooms still soft and fresh and full of color. No fading out for me just yet. This party is just starting and you’re invited.
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