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Vaughn Bell, "Garment for Flora-Fauna Relationship," cloth and flora specimen, 2006.

Vaughn Bell

"I look at our need to own, control, and care for the landscape, and often find both humor and pathos in the encounter."

Vaughn Bell's body of work suggests a science fiction universe in which plants serve as pets and companions. A wooden stand serves as a "Cultivation Utility Vehicle" where land is made available for adoption (2006). Plants follow their human caretakers around in wagons and accompany them in belly-pouches (2006). In "New Pioneers" (2006), vegetation travels into new territory on floating ships. Bell even pulls a miniature Mt. Rainier, a mountain outside of Seattle, Washington, on a leash (2006).

There is a humorous quality to her work, an affectionate absurdity that cultivates and protects nature while poking gentle fun at the act of domestication. How could we be so ridiculous, as to think we could dispense biospheres like candy, or to ignore the growing pile of compost at the cafeteria? At the same time, what does it mean to take care of a potted plant or local bioregion? Bell's work turns the cultural tendency to tame wilderness on its head.


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