A Delicate Balance: Can systems of man and nature co-exist?
Words and Images by Victoria Fuller
An Article published in The Earth Issue 002: IMPACT
Chicago artist Victoria Fuller has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and fellowship awards from the Colorado Council on the Arts and Humanities, and the Illinois Arts Council. She also received an Illinois Arts Council CAAP Grant, and was a resident artist at Sculpture Space in Utica, NY and Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, IL. Her large-scale public sculpture “Shoe of Shoes” is in the collection of Caleres Shoes in St. Louis. Sound Transit in Seattle commissioned another large-scale sculpture, “Global Garden Shovel,” and she was commissioned by Comed to create the sculpture “Peas and Quiet.” In 2016 she was featured in Sculpture Magazine’s May issue, as part of the show “Disruption” at Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. Her most recent large-scale public sculpture, titled ”Canoe Fan,” is installed along the Huron River in Ann Arbor, MI.
I grew up on a farm near woods and streams in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Nature was all around me. As a child observing nature, I focused on the macro and the micro worlds – veins and galls on leaves, organisms swimming in puddles, tree bark, a bird’s nest on the windowsill, stars in the Milky Way, and an eclipse of the sun. With wonder and awe, when I was around 7 years old, I witnessed the Aurora Borealis from the porch outside my house. The Sun’s activity and the Earth’s magnetic field were lined up in such a way that we could see it in Pennsylvania. The phenomenon of nature was a treasured part of my life then, as it is now. As a resident of Chicago, I like to go to Lake Michigan and nature preserves nearby, to commune with nature. The beauty of the world’s creatures and plants brings me joy, sustenance, and wonderment so I am devastated by what is happening to our planet. Animals are going extinct from poaching and human encroachment; we are polluting oceans and depleting them of sea life (and the Fukushima Daiichi plant continues to spew nuclear radiation into the Pacific Ocean); our ground water is being used up or contaminated; and, toxins are poisoning our air. As the planet heats up from human CO2 emissions, coral reefs are dying and glaciers are melting.
Shortsighted policies fail to recognize that we need insects, plants, and animals. Ant tunneling aids in decomposition, soil aeration and nutrient recycling. Bees pollinate fruits and vegetables. Bats eat pest insects, and fruit bat guano plays a role in seed dispersal. Birds aid in forest decomposition, pest control, nutrient recycling, plant pollination, and seed dispersal. Plants are a major source of medicine, with many lost forever through rainforest destruction. Plant roots prevent soil erosion, and rainforests produce and hold moisture, preventing drought and desert conditions. These are just a few examples of how we benefit from natural habitats.
I have always admired drawings in biology and science books, with close-ups,
cutaways, and instructive illustrations depicting nature accurately and scientifically. After pursuing my MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I enrolled in natural science illustration classes and became a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. I loved making watercolor illustrations. While illustrating organisms, I learned about them so in a sense I became a kind of scientist studying nature.