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Exhibition Essay

“From a real body, which was there, proceed radiations which ultimately touch me, who am here… the photograph of the missing being, as Sontag says, will touch me like the delayed rays of a star.” –Roland Barthes

Photographer and installation artist Linda Rossi has for years illuminated the intimate relationship between the human personality and Earth, seeking to engender our civic response to and reconnection with the sensuality of the planet. Rossi’s love for nature — her longing for its recovery — resonates in her art, leading us to the things we forgot we too once loved.

Through the eyes and mind of an artist/scientist/poet Rossi searches for meaning in countless realms, capturing organic patterns that overlap and echo through different paradigms of human understanding, arranging an incredible breadth of imagery with real discernment and sensitivity.

Rossi dwells at the edge (of ideas, places, objects, and theories). She knows from natural systems that the edge (the ecotone) is where life is most fertile. It is in this connection, this relationship, this exchange between things, where the possibilities for the future reside.

Rossi presents her latest body of work in her new exhibition, “Sound Suspended,” featuring straight large-scale photographs, including silver gelatin prints, c prints, and digital prints, illuminated transparencies, video, and sculpture.

Through this work, Rossi provides the opportunity to experience the
aesthetic connection with simple organic forms and patterns (rocks, seeds, skeletal fragments) or complex entities such as snow, the moon, or vast bodies of water. Many of Rossi’s larger works address the intersection of science and art, such as the large color print titled Essence (2005) of a glass chemistry graduate filled with milkweed seeds, or the black and white, and color group portraits of catalogued song birds [Songbird Collection I, 2005, Songbird Collection II, 2005].

Rossi’s work begs the question: Where does our relationship with nature truly reside? Ecologist and philosopher David Abram asserts that reciprocity, not hierarchy, is the real dynamic for life.

In a stand-alone photograph — the only portrait of a human being in the exhibition — Rossi presents a small girl holding an oversized book, damaged by gunfire. The book, titled Nature, functions metaphorically as both a shield and a map for the girl, who represents all future generations of the human species.

“We cannot be studied or cured apart from our relationship with the planet,” says psychologist James Hillman, a leading influence in the growing field of eco-psychology.

Rossi believes it is imperative that we refine our aesthetic relationship with nature. Through our alignment with nature, she knows, it will be possible to face what we need to face, change our behavior, and set a new trajectory for our future in the biosphere.

Cynde Randall is an artist and artistic director of Bird x Bird, an artist organization dedicated to the stewardship of avian species and the environmental education of human beings.