Susan McEachern

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Backyard Community

In this project, the artist examines human social structures from the point of view of the garden and the insects that live there. Many of the works are digitally manipulated to highlight certain types of activities that are more descriptive of human, rather than natural, concerns. Flies, bees, butterflies, ants, aphids, and beetles are digitally inserted into the images to present a harmonious community of insects. This manipulated world is then further related to corporate models of human behavior through captions and graphs. Titles such as “Change Agents,” refer to organizational and managerial theories that understand personality and relationships as highly functional and flexible only within certain parameters. Other photographs are placed in shadow boxes whose glass covers have been etched with the shapes of insects. The etched insects are presented in a quasi- scientific way, as part of a chart or graph that relates different types of activities and values against one another. In all these works, the artist depicts the insects in terms of how they function within a corporate scheme. The insects, however, appear simply to be going about their affairs, their “natural” activity seemingly at odds with the charts and diagrams that attempt to explain organizational structure. By combining these diagrams of corporate-speak with photographs of insects, flowers and foliage, McEachern emphasizes the absurdity of attempting to explain human behavior as if it were governed by what are understood to be the essential, unchanging laws of nature. For her, behavior is learned and originates within a larger context of social values. Moreover, relationships are established not for their serviceability, but for the very human desire to connect, understand, and gain fulfilment on numerous levels, through and with others.

Written by CMCP curator Andrea Kunard

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