As Birdwings

Artist Statement

As Birdwings is an exploration of the importance of learning to balance turning toward the imperiled state of our environment while remaining in touch with beauty and joy. We must wake up to what is happening on our planet and take action to save it.

As I was making these images, news was breaking in my city of Wilmington, NC that DuPont/Chemours has been dumping GenX, into the Cape Fear River since 1980. GenX was to be a “safe” replacement for C8/ PFOA (perflurooctanaic acid) used in manufacturing and a known carcinogen. C8 was used in manufacturing for approximately 60 years. Months prior to this breaking news, DuPont settled a $671 million class action lawsuit in West Virginia for dumping C8 into the Ohio River. Countless people, livestock and pets in West Virginia  have developed severe illnesses and have died from C8 poisoning.

As the story unfolds in Wilmington, NC, it has come to light that staff at the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) in Wilmington, NC knew that GenX was in our water supply for at least over a year prior to the story breaking but did not inform the public. At 24 days into this chaos, CFPUA board and staff as well as city and county officials continue to state that the water is safe to drink. History, as told in the stories of countless people in West Virginia, suggests otherwise. Local and biologists, toxicologists and water quality specialists  have advised residents not to drink the water, brush their teeth with it, rinse food or cook with it. Many citizens maintain that because it is so similar to C8 and because it has not been well researched, we should not be used as guinea pigs to determine whether it is safe. It has also been revealed that at least 6 additional toxic chemicals are in our water supply, including 1,4 dioxane, which is a known carcinogen.

At present, Chemours has stated that they have ceased dumping GenX into the Cape Fear River and will take the waste “away.” Further investigation by local media indicates that it has been taken to Arkansas for a “test burn.” Media in Arkansas have reportedly been notified. (There is no “away.” Toxic chemicals will eventually end up in our water, air or soil. Please buy organic food and chemical free products whenever possible.)

It is my hope that this series inspires people to love what is beautiful in our world and take action to save it while there is still time.

The title of this series was inspired by the following poem:

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence
is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.
–Rumi