INTERVIEW WITH JEAN DAVIS AND NANCY WU
Two artists from, Jean Davis and Nancy Wu, gave an interview to our journal in which they talk about their environmental artistic endeavors linked to Resurrect Studio which entails gathering broken, discarded, but ultimately luminous pieces of glass fragments found on the ocean coastal line. The glass sculptures collectively tell a story of hope and inspiration, of sacred and profane.
Keywords: glass art sculptures, broken glass, nature, Resurrect Studio, Kintsugi, 3-dimensional watercolors, transformative power of art, sacred and profane, garbage, gemstones
Brief information about the artists
Alexander Kopytin (AK): Please describe the circumstances that led to the establishment of Resurrect Studio.
Jean Davis (JD): Thank you for your invitation to participate in this interview. We are thrilled to share about our belief in the transformative power of art.
AK: How has your artmaking process evolved since the outset of this undertaking?
Nancy Wu (NW): I would say that we are our best at this beach, our feet on the ground with head touching blue sky, bobbing for nectar like a bee or butterfly set loose in the garden of Eden. This beach, which is continuously belching up liquor bottles, ash trays, butter dishes, coke bottles and lemon squeezers, is not our fresh landfill of yesterday, but a century-old new-age “quarry" that Mother Earth has been actively breaking down into organic matter. Aside from the smell of tar, it is pleasant smelling. Clues of lives lived a century ago reveal modern industrial age that began the throwaway culture of convenience. This is the setting of our art supply store.
Figure 4 “Utopia”
There is a playfulness and spiritedness essential to the process that we both recognize as integral to the product. As sure as the sun rises and sets, our daily process has to be renewed, dusted off, and repaired. What’s interesting to me is that in spite of the circumstances that led to our forming Resurrect Studio, which parallels the story of our lives, the intervals with which the soul is invited to quench her thirst are fleeting and elusive largely because of the age we live in where pragmatism prevails. The Studio is that crucial physical space that helps unleash and capture our ideas as if we ourselves are the Kintsugi glass desperately in need of repair.
Figure 5 “Wonder Island”
A.K.: In what ways is your relationship with the natural environment significant to the art-making?
JD: We ignore and misuse when we fail to identify. We make health-affirming choices when we care, empathize and love. As a society, we have grown largely detached and dismissive of that which occurs naturally. Even in the face of the increasingly devastating effects of this behavior, we continue to prioritize fleeting material comforts.
Thus, has arisen the crisis of climate change – a crisis for society, of the self, of the soul. For how we feel about nature is, ultimately, how we feel about ourselves.
We of Resurrect Studio relish our visits to a natural source, in the form of a once pristine beach that has been soiled by a humanity that has littered upon it for decades. We sift through these artifacts in search of treasures. Metaphorically, isn’t this act we perform routinely in our lives? There’s much debris and memories buried within that we must confront and move through to be healed, to gain health, to realize ourselves. We are collecting, cleaning all of these things and attempting to illuminate its beauty.
We are certainly concerned about the warming of the planet. At the same time, our perspective and beliefs extend beyond the visible environment into matters of the psyche and the heart.
NW: This kind of art-making we invented connects us to Mother Nature’s biorhythms because it is completely dependent on the tide. Like fishermen going out for a catch, sometimes we find a magnificent bounty, other times nothing. It mirrors life. Even if our finds are not particularly remarkable, there’s a use for those pieces as well. Whatever the inventory, it ends up being the blue plate special, and we enjoy the challenge of how to make it look and taste delicious! No two pieces are exactly alike, so resourcefulness is key.
We have a great knack for finding what we do need. For instance, we’ll notice that we’re getting low on curvy, clear scuffed-up pieces and put that in our mind’s eye. This power of intention conjures up a sort of playfulness with the beach and when the thing you set out to find finds you, it reminds you that Nature is seeing you, versus you seeing nature. She will throw you a bone just to keep you going. Because we regard the glass as century-old fossils, some of our sculptures are affectionately named for the day they were unearthed and saw the light of day such as Aug 23, 2021.
We rely on nature and art to restore our souls. Losing yourself in nature makes you feel younger, lighter, less stressed. I’m so glad our process intimately relies on nature.
With bursting energy of grade school kids released on a Friday afternoon, we know to bring our best selves to Studio. We both lead very busy lives with many jobs and kids, and and and… Resurrect is a life practice for finding the hopefulness in everything. As they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade; when life gives you broken old lemon squeezers, go and make something from that.
Figure 6 “Life Force”
AK: Is there a philosophy implied in your studio practice? How would you conceptualize the transformation which environmental garbage, the profane, undergoes in order to become a work of art, something beautiful, inspiring and even sacred?
JD: We believe that Resurrect Studio embodies a philosophy, one resting on faith. A belief that when we openly view something others might consider valueless, we can illuminate and celebrate it. We transform to the best of our ability. We believe that in this art form, the discarded can be resurrected and it shows the reality of what we hope for and is the evidence of things we cannot see. This is faith.
There is a vitality in the pieces we’ve produced because, in the process, we’ve given over to spirit force. As we see it, everything already exists – and that which has seemingly been buried calls out to be resurrected. Whether we look at people, spirits, (wo)man’s will versus God’s will or simple concrete art and art materials, everything already exists. But do we see it? Accept it? Integrate it into our lives? At the same time, we understand that this act of transfiguration isn’t something we perform in isolation. We are receptive, we act from a knowing and that we are guided from beyond the simplicity and limitation of our egos. We own nothing. We are simply instruments.
NW: We love the broken glass we chose. We picked it up because it happened to attract us in that moment. These chosen pieces – did we find them? Or did they find us? Broken, discarded, brought up, cleansed, cared for, brought together, brought into the light and celebrated. The pieces collectively tell a story of hope and inspiration, of profane and sacred.
We all know the delighting in finding a piece of sea glass, especially blues, teals and ambers. It sets off a feeling of “the cosmos is with me.”
Figure 7 “Resurrect”
Please visit our website: resurrect.studio
and please follow us on Instagram: resurrectstudio
Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Department of Psychology, St. Petersburg Academy of Postgraduate Pedagogical Education (St. Petersburg, Russian Federation)
Reference for citations
Kopytin, A.I. (2022). An interview with Jean Davis and Nancy Wu. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 3(1). [open access internet journal]. – URL: http://ecopoiesis.ru (d/m/y)
In accordance with the Law of the Russian Federation on the Mass Media, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) on September 22, 2020, the web-based publication - The peer-reviewed scientific online journal "Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice" was registered (registration number El No. FS77-79134).
“Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice” is the international multidisciplinary Journal focused on building an eco-human paradigm, disseminating eco-human knowledge and technology based on the alliance of ecology, humanities and the arts. Our journal aims to be a vibrant forum of theories and practices aimed at harmonizing the relations of mankind and the natural world in the interests of sustainable development, the creation of Eco-Humanity as a new community of human beings and more-than-human world. The human being is an ecological being, not separate from the world. The Ecopoiesis journal is based on that premise and aims to develop a body of theory and practice within that framework.
The Journal promotes dialogue and cooperation between ecologists, philosophers, doctors, educators, psychologists, artists, musicians, designers, social activists, business representatives in the name of eco-human values, human health and well-being, in close connection with concern for the environment. The Journal supports the development and implementation of new environmentally-friendly concepts, technologies and practices in the various fields of health and public life, education and social work.
One of the priority tasks of the Journal is to demonstrate and support the significant role of the arts in their alliance with ecology and the humanities for the restoration and development of constructive relations with nature, raising environmental awareness and promoting nature-friendly lifestyles.
The Journal publishes articles describing new eco-human concepts and practices, technologies and applied research data at the intersection of humanities, ecology and the arts, as well as interviews and conference reports related to the emerging eco-human field. It encourages artwork, music and other creative products related to eco-human practices and the new global community of Eco-Humanity.