Sunday, December 5, 2021

Oak Leaf: A Life Story -- Inspiration

 I had an epiphany the other morning. It feels like a very ambitious challenge but I want to weave this little story about an oak leaf and its life changes with James Lovelock's Gaia Theory. I was introduced to James Lovelock in the documentary (I recommend it highly) Going Circular produced and streaming on Curiosity Stream. I have been profoundly inspired and influenced by this film. 

Still from Acorn: A Life Cycle film. Please note the leaf litter around the acorn.

This hypothesis suggests that the whole earth is one cohesive living system in which everything is interrelated and self balancing. Mother Nature does not consume with no regard to the well being of the whole system and nothing is wasted. Humans have disrupted this balance and we are seeing the consequences now.

It was music to my ears to hear these ideas I have accepted for many years, so eloquently expressed by scientists and designers. This drawing is part of a series of mandalas (representing the universe) that I created for over 30 years. I was visualizing my belief in the interrelatedness of all things.

Grasses Stone Circle, 52"x46"  graphite on paper

These are not new ideas. As long ago as 500BC, Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu recommended "Be aware of the oneness of things". Throughout history, including many hunter gatherers, cultures were built on the idea that all life is connected. 

Dogwood Stone Circle, 42"x52"   mixed media on paper

As I move forward with my research I want to include interviews with both scientists and artists about these ideas. Many scientists work in very niche fields, so it will be interesting to learn if they are familiar with James Lovelock and how they interpret his Gaia Theory in relationship to their own studies. I will interview artists for whom these ideas resonate and find out if/how they are expressing "the oness of things" in their work.

What do you think? How connected to you feel to the microbes I will explore that are digesting/decomposing the oak leaf litter in your yard? Have you seen visual art or stories that you think successfully express these concepts? Your thoughts are always welcome and appreciated.

Thank you for your interest in my work.

You can learn more about my work at You can see my series of animated life cycles and other Anim8Nature projects on Vimeo.

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