Roots & Nests

As an amateur organic gardener, I spend much of my summers pulling weeds. This is usually a meditative activity, requiring physical rather than mental effort, and therefore freeing my mind to ponder other things. However, for a brief moment last summer, I paused to evaluate the root structure of a weed that I had just pulled. I was suddenly amazed at the complicated, vein-like system that delivered sustenance to the plant. I became interested in the physical beauty of the root structure, that which existed below ground and out of view. Meanwhile, the plant that existed above ground was unwanted and created work for me, and was therefore “ugly” in my point of view. This simple idea was the beginning of this body of work.

Three years prior to the inception of this project, I moved with my husband and young son from urban Atlanta to the tiny, rural town of Lexington, Virginia. This move refocused our world to be almost entirely centered around our small band of three, and building our home far away from our extended family and friends.With this recent past in mind, I began to think of roots in a larger sense, as a metaphor
for family and home life. I also started to explore other visual symbols of these ideas. Nests were an obvious subject for me to explore next. But beyond that, more subtle metaphors such as a twisted muscadine vine and a cocoon-like leaf fragment became a part of the project.

This project is explored through processes not necessarily associated with photography, although I consider them to be photographs. The images are constructed and photographed using a flatbed scanner. The prints are broken up, and brought back together in a grid of square panels. I am interested in how an organic line is broken by a geometric edge, then continued, as the viewerʼs eye attempts to complete the image. The prints are also layered with encaustic wax. With this, I hope to create a sense of a protective layer around the ideas of family and home, almost like encased precious objects. I attribute this to the need to express my maternal instincts and desire to protect my family in a visual way. The wax also adds to the sense of depth, of focus and lack thereof, that was originally captured by the shallow depth of field of the scanner.

Christa Kreeger Bowden
www.scannerobscura.com