“Our Land” is a series of portraits of the fleeting layers of leaves, fruits, seeds, and twigs on the ground in the area between two steps in urban green spaces.
It’s a record of the limited area of soils found in public parks, botanical gardens, and sidewalk tree beds in three major urban cities, New York, London, and Los Angeles. The fallen foliage, flowers, and fruits turn the land into an ephemeral canvas that documents the ongoing negotiations and reconciliations between urban human life and forces in nature: gravity, wind, sunlight, and rain. There are traces of activity and hints of the time of the year and places, a nibbled acorn from a squirrel, a leaf blown from across the field, or a pile of industrial mulch.
Throughout the series, the topology of the ground shifts in tonality, structure, density, and luminance, mirroring the paradoxical feelings I have about land, feeling displaced geographically, culturally, and emotionally, and at the same time, feeling grounded, at awe, and uplifted by the nurturing power shared by all land.
The images are captured on an iPhone camera and are presented larger than life to invite viewers to immerse themselves in the complex dynamics of our living systems and of one’s internal emotional ground.
Cindy Qiao is a visual artist who explores the human-nature relations through photography. Her images are close observations of nature in urban environments where reality verges into abstraction as they become objects for contemplation. Her works have been exhibited in Boston and New York, and most recently, special featured at the 2020 Urban Soils Symposium. She has a BA in Philosophy and lives and works in Long Island City, New York.