Every day I drive past a tree that has been carved and sliced to make way for a power line. Its branches no longer grow on its left side. And every day I slow down, fascinated, past this tree that continues to grow as if it only ever had a right side.
There is a negativity that surrounds talk of overpopulation, global warming, and interference with forests and the natural landscape. There is no doubt that humankind has altered the world outside of our four walls, but rather than our destruction, what I am interested in is the ability plants have to survive. My paintings focus on the natural cycle of death and growth, adaptation and sustainability that is constantly occurring in the natural world despite our interference.
This series of work always begins outdoors. The face to face interaction of nature and myself is a very important part in creating my work. In some cases, the research I have been doing on the species in the environment surrounding my home will inspire me to hunt for my subject so I can see it firsthand. This is especially true in my newest work which is focused primarily on the floodplain of the South Fork River near my home in North Carolina; one of the most polluted rivers in the country. I am interested in the damage caused as the river floods and the pollutants enter into the scars of trees caused by animals and humans.
In many of my paintings I use negative space to represent part of a tree or plant that no longer exist or that have succumbed to its host. In those negative spaces I have begun to include real bark which is a delicate process of soaking and peeling. This added layer is a literal interaction of nature and myself while alluding to the destruction we cause. My intention has always been to represent the outside world in a positive and powerful manner.
Michelle Podgorski 2014