Inherit The Earth

Excerpts from Catalogue Essays by Dr. Tatiana Flores At the Threshold of the Unknown: The Ecofeminism of Lynn Parotti and Dr. Allison Thompson Transitory Nature: Reflections on Water and Clouds

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Dr. Tatiana Flores writes,
“For a number of years, Parotti’s primary subject matter has been water—not the expansive vistas experienced from the beach or the air, described by Stacy Alaimo as “the transcendent visions of an Anthropocene planet where neither the homo sapiens as an embodied creature nor all the rest of the species are rendered visible.”1 Parotti, rather, immerses herself and the viewer into oceanic depths, reminding us, as Astrida Neimanis does, that “[w]e are all bodies of water.”2 Often the waterscapes that the artist depicts—of sickened coral and polluted seas—are drawn from underwater photographs that she takes herself. Others are imagined or derived from images taken by others. What she has been trying to make visible is the interconnection between humans and their environment. What befalls the ocean and its creatures is of consequence to us. The painting From Water We Came (2017-20) drives this point home. A large, almost square, canvas of multiple tonalities of blues and varying textures, the painting’s forms suggest water in various states but also seeds, leaves, and flowers. An abstracted feminine figure appears to be overseeing the act of creation. The relation of the painting to Neimanis’ essay on “hydrofeminism” is uncanny. It is almost as though Parotti had set out to illustrate the following passage:

As a facilitator, water is the milieu, or the gestational element, for other watery bodies as well. Mammal, reptile, or fish; sapling or seed; river delta or backyard pond—all of these bodies are necessarily brought into being by another body of water that dissolves, partially or completely, to water the bodies that will follow…. Gestational waters are also themselves (in) a body of water, and participate in the greater element of planetary water that continues to sustain us, protect us, and nurture us, both extra- and intercorporeally, beyond these amniotic beginnings. Water connects the human scale to other scales of life, both unfathomable and imperceptible. We are all bodies of water, in the constitutional, the genealogical, and the geographical sense.3

Dr. Allison Thompson writes,
Inherit the Earth is Lynn Parotti’s impassioned call to action. She presents us with a body of richly painted, seductive landscapes and seascapes but the underlying message is the fragility and compromised health of our environment and our obligation to do all in our powers to tend to the urgent needs of our planet before we destroy it. Global warming, water shortages, toxic pollution, catastrophic storms, out-of-control fires: how much of this is the result of human excess, greed, hubris and folly? We have abused this planet and the consequences are mounting. Through her painting process, Parotti takes on nothing less than the urgency of the planet Earth under threat, our own knowing complicity in this precarious circumstance and the dire need for response. What will there be left for our children to inherit?

Parotti’s relationship to place is informed by a social conscience fuelled by research. It is not just the human interaction with nature, but increasingly our impact on nature. Her landscapes function as social geographies, exhibiting the footprints – carbon and otherwise – of our impact. The scenes contain the tracks and traces of our responsibility. Water, in particular, has remained an ever-present force in Lynn’s work – its visual beauty, its fluid movement, its life-sustaining essence; but also its erosive force, its destructive capabilities and its endangered state. For Parotti, water is connectivity; not only in the networked systems of oceans, rivers and lakes, but also as an elemental part of the human body. It is the essential element on which all life depends and its growing scarcity threatens our very existence.

In an opinion piece written for the New York Times following Hurricane Dorian’s devastating impact in the first days of September 2019, art historian Erica Moiah James noted that while the Bahamas has a tiny carbon footprint, “it carries the burden of being ground zero for our climate crisis.”4 Small islands in particular are affected by climate change in ways that are unfamiliar, unprecedented and urgent, according to Dr. Michael Taylor, a Caribbean climate scientist based at the University of the West Indies. “Cumulatively, the science of projections suggests that the region’s climate will be altered beyond recognition. This is to say, it will be outside the bounds of our lived experience to date. It will not just be unfamiliar at times, it may be unprecedented all the time.”5

  1. Stacy Alaimo, “Wanting All the Species to Be: Extinction, Environmental Visions, and Intimate Aesthetics,” Australian Feminist Studies 34:102, 405, DOI: 10.1080/08164649.2019.1698284.
  2. Astrida Neimanis, “Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water,” in Undutiful Daughters: New Directions in Feminist Thought and Practice, edited by Henriette Gunkel, Chrysanthi Nigianni, and Fanny Söderbäck (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012), 85.
  3. Neimanis, “Hydrofeminism,” 87.
  4. Erica Moiah James, “Opinion: Hurrican Dorian Makes Bahamians the Latest Climate-Crisis Victims,” The New York Times, September 4, 2019.
  5. Michael Taylor, “Climate Change in the Caribbean- Learning Lessons from Irma and Maria,” The Guardian, October 6, 2017.