“In this installation, I wanted to paint a portrait of the world without us,” Boston-area artist Jessica Straus says in a video about her exhibition “Stemming the Tide” at Boston Sculptors Gallery from Aug. 25 to Sept. 26, 2021. She intends it as a “poetic retort to the notion that ‘man shall have dominion over the earth.'” Which she feels has led humanity to destroy the natural resources that sustain us.
The exhibition grew out of a 2018 residency at Duntara, Newfoundland, when she began creating maps that she floated atop the waters of coves there and later in Maine. “What I saw when I watched the undulations of the map sections being buffeted by the waves was continents adrift and our homes slipping away from us,” Straus says in the video.
At Boston Sculptors Gallery, a school of about 100 whittled “ghost” cod are arranged on the gallery floor, as if swimming out of a large map spanning from the North Pole to Greenland to Cape Cod, which hangs from the gallery ceiling and down onto the floor.
Straus writes, “The only hint of human presence are the hand knotted fisherman’s nets framing the perimeter of the gallery and veiling photographic images of floating maps. There is a plea here for reconciliation with the planet and rethinking what stewardship of the land and sea might look like as we come closer and closer to painting ourselves out of the picture.”
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