The Relationship between Humans and Nature
Can humans have whatever they want? Can we just take anything we please just because we like it, and what are the morals associated with doing so? Many different art pieces argue that we (humans) have abused our power over nature and that by doing so we have destroyed the original, pure nature that once was. Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison’s photography support this, as does the poem “Another Day in This Here Cosmos” by Maureen McLane (McLane, 48-49) and an intriguing article about butterfly extinction. All of these examine the truth that humans and nature are no longer existing in harmony, but instead humanity has ruined the “pure nature” that we had the privilege of living in for only a short time.
The ParkeHarrisons’ photography makes an interesting point about the relationship between people and their surroundings. Throughout their work the audience constantly sees the artists struggling to reveal the truth about the tainted relationship between humans and nature. In the artists’ collection Gray Dawn, the ParkeHarrisons compare how nature can interact with humans in a peaceful way (ParkeHarrison). However, there is an irony to their work because of the lingering gray, depressive undertones. Perhaps this is why they named this body of work Gray Dawn: because “dawn” is thought of as beautiful and bright, whereas “gray” is dreary and gloomy. This contradiction seems to symbolize the contrast between “industrial humans” versus “mother nature”.
One of the pieces out of Gray Dawn is a picture depicting a tree branch that has been broken, bandaged back together, and is now bleeding through that bandage, its blood trickling into a glass cup hanging off the branch. The entire piece is tones and shadows of grays and dark browns until it comes to the bright red blood. That
is obviously where the artists want the focus to lie: with the snow white bandage tainted by the red blood that is a symbol of our broken,...