Mushrooming 2008-2013

 “From the shadow of the prehistoric world emerge dying religions that have not yet invented gods or goddesses, but live by the mystery of the elemental powers in the universe, the complex vitalities of what we feebly call Nature”

                                                            D.H. Lawrence   The Etruscans




This work explores the overlap between early civilizations and the nature that inspired them.  In my paintings, Etruscan artifacts float in layers of organic form linking man to matter; shells provide models of harmonic proportion while mushrooms allude to the continuity between the past and the present. The Western aesthetic is like a mushrooming of our understanding.


Seashells, for example, are an archetype of aesthetic principles containing complex mathematical formulas. The shapes unfold in logarithmic spirals with golden section proportion, creating a pattern of ‘whirling squares’ known as the Fibonacci sequence.   Fibonacci demonstrated the direct correlation between nature’s harmonic way of organizing itself and the unconscious human aesthetic found in manmade objects.  Benoit Mandelbrot contemporized Fibonacci’s theories; connecting modern life and science back to the natural process.  Mandelbrot suggests that fractals, like shells, self-organize their formation through self-similarity permitting order and chaos to coexist.  The sacred geometry embedded in natural forms is repeated in crafts like weaving and ceramics and systems like urban planning and computers.  As a spiral is created by the shell’s growth pattern, so clay was manipulated into shape by the Etrurian potter; deterministic form and intention go hand in hand.


Fungi extract nutrients from decaying matter; the decomposition of one organism giving life to another.  As metaphors, mushrooms are like the stratification of the civilizations that develop on top of each other.  They are the cycle of life and death that connects us to the past and to our roots in the natural world.  Mushrooming implies synergy: overlap, connectedness and potential.