Taylor French Benoit

My studio practice is concerned with sculpture and painting as spaces of reckoning, as spaces for the action or process of calculating or estimating the distance between Nature and ideas of nature. I am persistently both fascinated and frustrated by the conditional relationships we foster with the natural world that are born out of human exceptionalism: the forces that work to push the notion that we are mere spectators of the natural realm. Given this frustration, I am interested in describing the ceaseless instances of cognitive dissonance that afford us the psychological and spiritual head space to simultaneously romanticize and exploit the natural environment. I’ve begun to think of these instances as my material or medium from which I can tease, elucidate, and expedite the latent and untenable forms of state perpetuated othering that is responsible for our current ecological crisis. My hope is that these forms might function as a cautionary semiotics: signage for the inevitable consequences of linear thought, normative embrace, and all the nodes of imperial residue that still pervade our socio-political and economic structures.

I find that we leap in and out of the delusion of otherness, able to feel connected to all there is one moment and unable the next. Oscillating between our ecological and environmental convictions as needed, we embrace and retreat from our kinship with the natural. My work is concerned with describing this dichotomy of being that comes from our exceptional human attitude and how we delineate spaces of nature and non-nature perceptually.

I would like to know what it means to be a nature lover in the 21st century. How do we reconcile our very real ecological and environmental needs with the long and storied lineage of ideated dupery (philosophical, aesthetic, economic, etc.) that has constructed such a substantial perceptual maze in regards to our relationship to the natural? What is this hubristic and conditional limerence that decides when and where the natural takes place for our own benefit and psychological wellbeing? How did we manage to cultivate an ethos in which to love is also to destroy?

— Taylor French Benoit, Spring 2020.