Jen Ann Simmons
Inspired by the “major questions” doctrine invoked in West Virginia v. EPA, in which the U.S. Supreme Court stripped the Environmental Protection Agency’s most effective methods of protecting life as we know it from human-induced climate change.
The major questions doctrine confers that questions of such immense political and economic significance, such as some questions involving the protection of our environment, should be explicitly directed by a politically divided, partisan Congress not dictated by a science-charged agency - a big win for big polluting proponents of deregulation.
The series reconstructs social masks as an invitation to re-imagine and re-member our biological lenses when considering questions of major political and economic import.
Finished days before the quarantine order, M1RR0RS series is inspired by six people I physically encountered and interacted with over three weeks– a peer, neighbor, gardener, partner, indigenous woman, and critic.
A celebration of my local ecosystem, I intended to express two things simultaneously– the inner nature, as I perceived it, of these six people and also how I felt inspired by them.
The everyday (and extraordinary) connections we have with others influence how we think and feel and ultimately, inform our identities, become who we are.
With coronavirus, more than ever networks are digital; online experience is the main vehicle of community- and meaning-making (hence the 1 and 0 in M1RR0RS).
You, a mirror to me; and I, a mirror to you.
Forest Floor, Looking Up
Seafloor, Looking Up
Volcano Chamber, Looking Up
Inspired by the leaderless, often indigenous, climate justice movements worldwide in 2019, Mass Movements demonstrates climate action as a collection of animated agents with no central hero, looking up, with hope, in defense of the natural world.
The series is arranged so that the viewer, looking at the painting, must imagine looking up, must imagine having hope that humans have the collective will necessary to avert worsening catastrophes.
Mass Movements successively deepens, from a forest floor, to a seafloor, to a volcano chamber, to underline the importance of rooting deeply in this moment in earth's history, to re-imagine ancient ways to relate and trade that are more regenerative and just.
Individually, the paintings were developed alongside major climatic events in late 2019/early 2020:
the rapid deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest (Forest Floor, Looking Up)
rising floodwater in Venice and release of the IPCC special report on the Ocean and Cryosphere (Seafloor, Looking Up),
Australia's ongoing fire disaster and volcanic activity in New Zealand and the Philippines (Volcano Chamber, Looking Up)
FLUX series investigates the circularity of change in the individual, community, and natural world. A living document of the motion of organic growth, in ecosystems and as change in consciousness, the series represents change as simultaneously death of a state and birth of a plane. Inspired by natural forms motivated toward entelechy, or full expression, the series calls for more integrity between human and non-human relations to respond to a changing environment.
Flora expresses visually, biomimicry: the consilience between garden-mind, art-biology, flora-psyche, human-earth.
As human-induced, changing climate warns, it is increasingly important to see humans more reciprocally as a species interdependent within the natural world, not as separate and above.
At the center of the human experience exists a tree, capable of deep-rooted, far-fruiting flourishing.
Biophilia is the expression of the one such tree in me, in us.
Termed by Dr. E.O. Wilson, "biophilia" is the inherent connection humans feel with the violent, elegant biological dance of the natural world.
Seeds, trees, and Sapiens flower only when healthy, restorative relationship is established between other living organisms - plants, animals, fungi, etc - we all root in one biological reality and require soil fecundity, sun, and rain to sustain and creative inundation to regenerate.
When All is Relationship is Earth, our greatest wealth is biodiversity of seeds and species and biophilia is the origin point of our felt interrelatedness.
UNITY is 23 paintings that explore the central question - 'what is one?' - human, community, movement, ecosystem.
Each painting stands alone, while the whole series is much more than each part, just as each human is uniquely valuable to the larger environmental movement.
When one and many commit to shared restoration of the interrelated web within and around, unity is as natural as root systems knowing cellularly, that we are better together, than we ever could imagine as isolated agents; humans fragment under the weight of culture's indoctrination of Otherness.