Deborah Kennedy

California, US

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Dancing Redwood Trees

Digital photograph

These dancing redwood trees were created from a photograph I took of trees that had burned one year prior in the CZU wildfire. This fire consumed 86,500 acres and 911 homes in the Santa Cruz mountains. After one year, these redwood trees had sprouted bright-green, bushy growth directly from their blackened trunks. Further up in the mountains, the hills that had been covered with pale grey ash and bristling with thin black tree trunks were now dotted with new, dark green bushes. Nature is resilent. If we give it half a chance it will come blasting back. If we don't, as they say: people are preceeded by forests and followed by deserts.
2022
  • Deborah Kennedy

O Geo Neo Neuro

Materials: pigment, medium, board, earth, 30” x 48” x 2”

This painting depicts an electron microscopic image of a slice of the human brain with earthen side panels. It is my meditation on what I see as the core of our environmental problems—our own minds, our own ways of thinking, and the acute challenge we face to change our mentalities. Cooperative behaviors are valued in our societies, but often only in limited ways and often focusing on a relatively small circle of people.

The actions we take in the larger world often seem primarily guided by selfishness, insatiable greed and unrelenting desire to consume. These drives are often invisible to us and every form of destruction we are carrying out, whether against the larger natural world or other humans often seems like the normal or justifiable business of the day.

The pandemic could be a valuable period to learn important ecological realities, for example, we now know every person is intimately connected to the rest of the life on the planet, and if we don’t foster a healthy world for all people and life forms we will be increasingly vulnerable on many fronts. Can we use our creativity to create new symbols and stories that help us envision the realities of our deeply connected world?
2022
  • Deborah Kennedy

The Cosmic Egg

Ink drawing

This detail of my ink drawing features a monarch butterfly, a white violet, and an ancient symbol--the cosmic egg. The cosmic egg contains all the characters from our alpha-numeric system and thereby, our wisdom. I want to see a day where we use our wisdom to celebrate and foster the biosphere that gives us life each day. When will give up our war against nature and learn to work with the life forces that are crucial to our own survival?
2021
  • Deborah Kennedy

Hurricane

Drawing

This drawing of a hurricane and poem are from my book "Nature Speaks: Art and Poetry for the Earth".
2021
  • Deborah Kennedy

Web of Life: Seeing the Connections

A poem, essay, and illustration from my book Nature Speaks: Art and Poetry for the Earth.

Dr. W. D. Billings, a life sciences professor at Duke University, authored Plants, Man, and the Ecosystem, an important book that influenced the field of botany. His text explored a new, holistic model of a functioning botanical environment. Prior to his research, botanists usually worked in a reductionist manner. The natural world is so complex, botanical researchers often altered just one element, such as water or sunlight, to understand the impact on growing plants. Dr. Billings analyzed living botanical environments using a systems theory perspective and modeled the complex, inter-dependent relationships needed to foster life. Subsequently, he created an intricate line drawing that modeled his concept. This poem is a celebration of Dr. Billings’s new, systemic understanding of living ecosystems.
2021
  • Deborah Kennedy

Untitled

Digital photograph

This altered photo shows part of the new “Google Village” under construction with the old WWII blimp hangar in the distance next to the bay in Sunnyvale. Only the lovely supporting structure of the hangar remains, it was stripped of outer layers of asbestos and other toxic materials at great expense. What new extreme miscalculations and systemic errors are being built into Google’s vast empire? When will we put life sciences at the forefront of our thinking and build a thriving world?
2021
  • Deborah Kennedy

Hard Rain: Waterspout and the Statue of Liberty (Detail)

Painting

A waterspout is a tornado that forms over water and draws water up into a cup shape at the base of this severe weather event. Climate change is predicted to increase the number and intensity of severe weather events. Our government could curtail climate change, but climate change can also affect our government and our national symbols. Hopefully, most people understand the devastating relationship between our air pollution from burning fossil fuels and other materials are creating increasingly dangerous changes in our climate.
2021
  • Deborah Kennedy

Changed Climate

Installation (detail)

This installation invites viewers to contemplate our current ecological crises. The books in this artwork, now rendered inaccessible, contain images of a thriving natural world now either gone or damaged and important scientific information concerning our declining environment. Ecological challenges explored in these books include rising rates of species extinction, ocean acidification, the death of coral reefs, forest mortality, pollution of our air and water, as well as an increasingly damaged climate.

Climate change, our most pressing problem, is accelerating many of these environmental challenges, and may soon threaten the stability of our societies as food and water become more expensive and scarce. To protect our planet and ensure a healthy future for ourselves, our children, and the natural world, we must be guided by good science and the life-sustaining systems of nature.

Depletion of knowledge!
2021
  • Deborah Kennedy

Untitled

Ink drawing

Human eggs with symbols of connectivity and compass roses. Our precious genetic material floating in a complex world. Climate change is already threatening food production. If we continue increasing our population in a world of declining food production we are on a collision course with reality.
2021
  • Deborah Kennedy

Homage to the Homage: A endless energy machine to heal the sky

Drawing

A reflection on Jean Tinguely’s machine performance at the Museum of Modern Art in 1960. His artwork, Homage to New York, was conceived as a “self-constructing and self-destroying work of art.” For me, this is a metaphor for our self-constructing and self-destroying civilization. My wistful drawing envisions a machine to provide endless streams of energy to a world destroying itself to consume more energy.
2021
  • Deborah Kennedy

Untitled

Digital manipulation of an existing photo

“A ruin is not a catastrophe. It is the moment when things can start again.”
A. Kiefer
When will we begin again?
2020
  • Deborah Kennedy

Untitled

Drawing

Sadly California is burning again. I have been an avid backpacker and hiker all my life. It is heartbreaking to see so many places I have loved burning so fiercely. The indigenous people who lived here did “forest gardening.” They burned out the undergrowth during the wet seasons. After decades of fire suppression, there is too much fuel in our forests, making the fires so hot and persistent. (Rakes are not going to fix this!) Also, recent research has revealed that our life-giving California fog has decreased by 33% in the last hundred years. We were told this was coming by climate scientists, when will we listen and respond?
2020
  • Deborah Kennedy

Articles from the MAHB

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