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Jenie Wightman
Mud Paintings

I collect mud and water samples and place them in clear sculptural frames. Exposed to light, the bacteria and algae living in the mud samples photosynthesize pigment, allowing us to see them. As one species exhausts its ideal resources and creates unfavorable waste products, it dies out leaving an ecosystem for a successor to thrive on the ‘waste’. Change in color indicates a change of thriving species resulting in a transforming colorfield.
While these look like ‘paintings’, they are literal landscapes of soil, water, and sunlight. The colorful microbes (with a 20-minute doubling time) provide a model system to witness exponential growth and decay in a finite ecosystem. Observing this microscopic life in its tiny world, my art points to an ecological rationality that humanity might apply to our own relationship with Earth’s finite resources.

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