I long for an ecological self, a place within me that still remembers that I am nature. This cannot be an intellectual understanding; I need a visceral knowing. As a sculptor, I take the body and write into it with nature’s patterns, symbols, and sometimes prayers. I combine the body with the bee, the mountain, and the flower. As an artist, I work with the body as a place of knowing and I rely on the body as part of the land, the piece of land we always inhabit. The body hungers, thirsts, breaths, feels temperature, touches. The body holds, intuits, and communicates with gestures and sighs. In my work, the body becomes the place of transformation.
If we are to find this ecological self, we will also have to find a new way of knowing, of eating, a new source of water, a fresh breath. If this longing is to be fulfilled, it will have to come through a spiritual changing of the flesh. We will have to learn to wander again led by stars.
I am a sculptor that uses digital emerging technologies and traditional clay modeling techniques to create life-size figures that combine the human body with symbols and patterns from nature. The figures are cast in plaster or bronze, 3D printed, or routed out of wood with a CNC. Ground pigments, beeswax, and natural materials such as wasp paper or birch bark are often used to finish the work.
To bring this ecological self focus to others, I have created a Social Practice project: Discovering the Ecological Self. During workshops (that can occur in an afternoon or over a series of weeks), participants in Discovering the Ecological Self research and create art from personally and culturally significant nature-based symbols, patterns, and images. We work to develop a more intimate relationship with nature to inspire environmental stewardship.
I collaborate with individuals and organizations from a variety of fields, particularly poetry, biology, psychology, and ecology, and give workshops internationally.
To join in the project and seek out your ecological self, start with this introductory survey: https://kimberlycallas.com/survey/ The survey results help us identify threads and patterns in our relationships to nature and inspires new imagery for the project. Contact information is optional.
Kimberly Callas is a Monmouth University Associate Professor of Art and Design in Long Branch, New Jersey and maintains a studio in Brooks, Maine.