fertile ground, emotional landscapes

fertile ground, emotional landscapes

Eve Nettles

fertile ground , emotional landscapes

decay : the teacher , soil : the mother & muse

part one

artists process was once sculpting materials from a primitive intuitive space places words could not touch for feelings as encompassing as this have no logic


early spring before my nineteenth birthday we lost our mother to a brutal short fight with cancer
the morning after she past, eyes glazed over in shock, in the downstairs library I heard a ringing in my ears, then her voice clearly “Eve, you two are each others mothers now”


that fall my sister and I sprinkled some of her ashes on the eastern coast, together made a pact to carry her with us in a 35mm film canister everywhere we traveled for we would travel far and knew her spirit was now amidst the stars, and she would find ways to guide us


I found a ravenous desire to transform matter, discards into function, empty soup cans collected to make a sculpture in the local church garden, recycled menus repeatedly rolled and clustered as coral reefs hung in Lamar Dodd gallery, shredded clothes braided into a net above a fashion show as I studied fine art in university. Naturally, I gravitated to the stories of artists past who transformed their feelings of grief, life obstacles, into resilient works of art. Eva Hesse, Louise Bourgeois, Frida Kahlo, Leonardo Drew, Joseph Norman, their stories nurtured me to explore my own strength and explore beyond conformity and boundaries.


A year past, I sat in a large auditorium at Emory University, the place where my dad worked as molecular biologist research scientist. There were stars in his eyes this afternoon in particular, for he would sit on a board of scientists gathered to meet and discuss collaborations with the Dali Lama. He sat arms reach from the stage with a group of colleagues. As a part of my Christmas present my father invited me to sit amidst a sea of people who had traveled far to hear the Dali Lama speak. Delighted to be a part of this rare experience I had no ideas how much of an profound impact it would have on me. Wise beyond years, humble and lighthearted as a child, an energy radiant and warm as the sun I was enamored by his being. I sat in awe as he shared insights from his upbringing and views on the world and humanity. Then he said something that sent a wave of emotions through my whole body. “A mother’s love is food to the baby’s heart. As much love as the mother pours into the baby, nurturing that baby while they grow, as that baby grows into a child, teenager, adult they will look for that love with a hunger out in the world, they will give that love in return to other many folds. A mother’s love is the greatest gift of all.” He continued to explain how in some circumstances a father takes on the role as mother, or a mother’s love may not be biological yet it is love all the same.. but the words for me faded a bit in the background. What I was experiencing in my body words cannot quite possibly describe, I felt a warmth on my shoulders, a smile bursting from inside out and forming on my face. Tears streamed down my face. A familiar and foreign frequency moved around me, through me. I knew in that moment my mother was with me.


My sister Ellen, living with my aunt and uncle in Savannah at the time was struggling to finish her last year in high school. Meanwhile she was blossoming into a beautiful woman with radiant inner wisdom. She planted seeds in her windowsill attic room that was once belonged to my cousin Meg and her pet iguana who both now lived in Kentucky on a horse farm. Ellen called these plants “her babies” and would whisper to them, smiling encouraging them to grow. She started working after school at a produce stand ran by a old southern couple who sourced from local farms and hired homeless to help restock fruits and vegetables, often trading fresh food for labor. Polks Fresh Food had the best local tomatoes, honey and sweet potatoes you’ve ever tasted. The place smelled of soil and citrus and as I watched Ellen give me a tour I could tell she had found her slice of heaven. She began to make friends with the farmers, pack up produce on the weekends and sell at the local farmers markets where she learned more by word of mouth about the crops, theirs seasons, and local recipes.


She would tell me, “Eve, farmers are the best kind of people. I want to be a farmer. Can you think of a better life’s work then to grow healthy food for people?!” I smiled watching her gravity to her calling and to this day I am changed by the deep truths of her discoveries.

 
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earth artists

earth artists

 intersectionality or big oof

intersectionality or big oof