The title of this project is a nod to a 1964 book by Leo Marx. His influential thesis considers why the American Pastoral ideal remains a cultural symbol even after massive industrial growth. Marx points to moments in American literature when the American Pastoral landscape is disturbed by a potent symbol of The Machine, the steam powered locomotive.
Green roofs are now reversing the process he outlined. The Machine is at home on the rooftops of our buildings, and green roofs are the intruders. Of course, green rooftops cannot literally overpower the urban fabric of Brooklyn, but these elevated plant islands exist against the background of the American Pastoral ideal. The Pastoral is a bedrock cultural paradigm that contributed to the Prairie Dream and the exodus to the suburbs, among other cultural processes.
I investigate Cultural Landscapes, the places where people and places interact, through my art. Although there are no people in this series, man-made machines are evident. I was raised in the country, and have often dreamed of returning to what Marx called the middle-garden, the place between the fear-inducing wilderness and the dense city. These pictures, which premiered in a public exhibition in Brooklyn were literally on a fence between the urban sidewalk and a middle-garden playground. This might have you thinking about how we impact the landscape and how the American pastoral ideal is still deeply embedded in the minds of Americans across the urban-rural divide.