I design experiences for people in context with technology — from product design to visual art and new media
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Escape From Hot Earth

I’m really excited to have 12 images from my series Escape from Hot Earth appearing in the current issue of The Southern Indiana Review. This is a series of digital collage and mixed media images exploring a mythological visual narrative that imagines a dystopian earth on fire and the intervention of divine feminine energy as the restorer of balance, nature, and spirit. Images in the series touch on themes of climate change, the dangerous complacency of a “thoughts and prayers” culture, self-reflection, and escapism, through a surrealist and sci-fi lens.

In these images, familiar archetypes offer prayers, worry, and tears while the world continues to burn around them. A  powerful figure is embodied by an astronaut suited version of Sekhmet, the Egyptian goddess of the sun, war, destruction, plagues and healing. She arrives to intervene and usher the last children on earth to safety. These children, now sainted and supernaturally protected by botanical armor, are spirited away to inhabit another planet that is lush, beautiful, and unspoiled by systemic racism, violence, and environmental catastrophe.

Any mythology offers clues about the aspirations of the storyteller and audience as situated in a particular society, place, and time. I hope to create images that move people and that promote empathy and a sense of urgency at a time of environmental and social crisis. This is a time for radical intervention, imagination, creativity, and action. I hope these images depict visions of equity in inheritance of the future, freedom from brutality for black Americans, and leaving future generations with a world that isn’t toxic for them on every level. 

Many of these images leverage digitized versions of Henry David Thoreau’s pressed plant specimens. These specimens are being studied to understand how climate change has effected their decline. Thank you to the Harvard University Herbaria for making digitizations of Thoreau's herbarium specimens public domain so that they can be featured in art as prominently as they have been in science.

Notes from June 2020: As I interrogate my own privilege and look with more criticality every day at my level of action on the very crises I am creating work about, I realize it’s important for me to address the problematic nature of white artists' portrayal of black experience in a way that assumes knowledge of lived-experience — that white artists simply do not possess — or alternatively, in a way that dismisses it completely. I am aware of this critical discourse and have tried to avoid those mistakes while also not engaging in cowardly and racist “opt-out” tactics and its accompanying omission of black people from the artist’s view (of the future in this case) and line of vision. This omission happens selfishly for the sake of avoiding correction and embarrassment over possible misstep and also compassionately for the sake of not doing harm. But both do harm in their silence and avoidance. While I have not had negative feedback about this work, and  I hope the works’ intent is successfully transmitted, I also realize intent does not cancel out any viewers’ experience of it. Let me know. It’s critical for white artists to actively address systemic racism. We should name it rather than passively suggest it, deal in humility and respectfulness, accept criticism, and be ready and willing to pivot if we hear we are doing it wrong.

©2020 Robin Vuchnich / all rights reservedI design experiences for people in context with technology — from product design to visual art and new media.