Suzette Marie Martin

North Adams, Massachusetts, US

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Naiaid de la riviere d’Hudson, 1778

ink drawing on a reproduction of a North American colonial map

From the “Naiads of the New World” series.
The classically educated Europeans who mapped the New World were likely familiar with the river nymphs of Greek mythology. My naiads mark the passage from millennia of “uncharted territory” to the eradication of indigenous cultures, and extensive environmental changes, that began during European exploration and settlement of the New World. Their bodies passively incorporate waterways renamed by each group of colonizing peoples.
What are the current stories we tell about the living landscape? Whose stories are “real”? How is an ecosystem different from something viewed as a “natural resource”?
The capitalist story of eminent domain, private property ownership, the rights of corporate entities to privatize, extract and destroy the commons (land, air, water, soil, plants, animals) has led to massive disruptions in the health and sustainability of the entire ecological systems, including planetary climate.
Taking direct physical action to change the pace and trajectory of toxic emissions into the commons is extremely urgent. But it may be equally urgent to create new stories and mindsets that support restoration, sustainability, and justice for all living creatures on this earth.
The entire series of naiads can be viewed on Suzette Marie Martin's website.
2021
  • Suzette Marie Martin

Expulsion from Eden V. 2.

Details and studio view (with preliminary studies.)
New series in progress

The fiery background in this painting has handwritten excerpts from the 2021 IPPC report on climate change, a report filled with undeniable evidence for human-caused climate breakdown as the earth’s intertwined systems of atmosphere, soil, oceans, and ice reinforce and escalate the speed and severity of disastrous global consequences in feedback loops among these systems. The myth of humanity being expelled from the garden of paradise seems an apt metaphor as our actual earthly garden faces the very real cumulative and ongoing greenhouse gas emissions, with the consequences of warming atmosphere and oceans, melting polar ice and permafrost, altered jet stream, and thermohaline circulation systems.
2021
  • Suzette Marie Martin

Dryad of the King’s Pines

Painting

Colonialism, ecological collapse, mythology, and grief. This new painting features a life-size 400-year-old tree stump, tiny molecular notation for greenhouse gasses, and a tree spirit mourning forests decimated by clear-cutting in colonial times and climate change in present times.

Dryad of the King’s Pines is based on a true colonial story of natural resource extraction for political and economic dominance. In the 1750s, King George I of England claimed exclusive rights to the largest of the ancient, enormous Eastern white pines (Pinus Strobus) in the New England colonies, marking them for harvest to build ships for the Royal British Navy. “The Pine tree Riots” of 1772, a rebellion by settlers who also wanted access to the trees, was a precursor to the American Revolution.

The classical education of upper-class Europeans who sponsored the colonization of the “New World” embraced Ancient Greek mythology, a pantheist belief system with female deities acting as spiritual embodiments of the elements of nature.
I use my anachronistic “dryads of the Anthropocene” as a proxy to embody ecological grief over human destruction of the forest ecosystems these deities symbolically nurtured, protected, and blessed.

Fewer than 1% of old-growth forests remain in North America, decimated by logging that continues into the 21st century. Pinus Strobus commonly reaches 200 years of age at maturity but has been recorded at over 450 years old.
2021
  • Suzette Marie Martin

The Ocean Acidification Series

Each painting:
Acrylic paint, charcoal, chalk pastel and pencil on BFK Rives paper coated with gesso, 30″ H x 22″ W

Molecular symbols of greenhouse gasses infuse the waters and bodies of my re-imagined Nereids struggling to survive in 21st Century oceans.

The Ocean Acidification Series depicts the chemical compounds involved in the reaction of carbon dioxide (CO2) with water, creating carbonic acid (H2CO3) and bicarbonate (HCO-3).

Carbonic acid changes the pH of the seawater, and bicarbonate inhibits the growth of shells, skeletons and coral.
2021
  • Suzette Marie Martin

Dryads of the Anthropocene series (painting in progress)

The 48” diameter tree stump in this painting is a life-scale representation of the typical size of mature Eastern White Pine, before colonial exploitation of “New World” forests. 


Depletion of natural resources is not just a 20th-21st Century issue. During the 17th and 18th centuries, mature white pines in the 13 Colonies were claimed by the Crown and reserved for building the British Royal Navy. Prior to their exploitation, it was common for white pines in the “New World” to reach heights of over 200 ft, diameters of 3-5 feet, with a lifespan of 200-450 years.

Pinus Strobus grown in timber plantations are usually harvested at 20-30 years old.
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The pine tree stumps in the last photo were found while hiking along a power line trail in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Their size indicates between 40-60 years of age.

Seedlings planted today will not reach full maturity until 2220.
2021
  • Suzette Marie Martin
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