The Witness - wall relief sculpture

Cherry, weathered wood and birch bark mosaic with glass and paint
49 x 49 x 3 in

The witness
I had a visual image come to me when I listened to John Trudell perform “The Torn Flag”.

This American flag becomes organic, melting into the landscape, waves crashing, symbolizing the struggle to come to terms with social hierarchy and inequality. All the while a ghostly bristlecone pine standing humble and ravaged by 5000 years of life holds a vigil, watching as civilizations rise and fall, the closest we come to an actual immortal being on earth. It all must seem so trivial to them the way people fight and claw for the right to say “I am better than you”. How frustrating for them to see the year “2020” play out on repeat for centuries, meanwhile climate change doesn’t care who is better than who. Human lives last for just seconds in the time perspective of these Living Gods. Has anyone thought to ask them for the wisdom of the ages? What would the answer be? Maybe they would say it is about reciprocity. They might remind us that thriving natural systems require diversity to exist. Such a childish idea that humans can live fully, deeply and in balance without the variety of mind, body and soul. A rich and productive cultural soil, life that fosters more life. Is this a choice we are making, to exist outside the rules that apply to complex living systems here on Earth? I think it could be and the consequences are becoming clear: it is about all of our survival now. The ravages of climate change and social inequity are bound together. As Trudell says “there comes a time when we must face the reality of what’s taking place”.