Lately, I have been interested in exploring the power structures that we as humans have developed over nature. Although it may sometimes appear that man-made objects have won the struggle to gain authority over objects of nature, I notice that there are some cases in which nature begins to take back the landscape. These are usually the result of abandonment, except in the case of Ox-bow School of Art in Saugatuck, Michigan.
During my time at Ox-bow, I originally chose to capture the struggle for power between man-made objects and nature. After doing some research on the area's history, I found that this struggle was nothing new here. Ox-bow's campus is located just a mile south of Singapore, Michigan. In the early 1800s, Singapore was a booming resource for lumber. The town became home to numerous stores, lumber mills, hotels, and a bank at its height. When the Great Chicago Fire ravaged the Midwest in 1871, Singapore was almost completely deforested to provide lumber for rebuilding. Without the trees as a protective cover, winds from Lake Michigan blew the sand dunes all over the town, causing its occupants to abandon it. Singapore was defeated by nature, buried under the dunes.
Ox-bow's campus is nestled in the woods of Saugatuck and surrounds a building known as "The Inn", which was built in 1873. Its modest buildings and cabins almost seem to agree with the natural landscape. After spending some time there, I found that there wasn't much of a struggle going on there--at least, not the kind of struggle that I had originally pictured. It almost seemed like the buildings and trees lived in harmony with one another. It was more of an equal partnership, rather than an invasion.
Although my original plan was to depict a violent struggle for power during this residency, I found that there are cases in which the man-made object and the object of nature work together in an equal partnership. The work that I created overlays images of Ox-bow's buildings on images of the surrounding vegetation. The result is a depiction of what once was, to what has now become.