A New World Burial (One God, One Faith, One Crop)

Cornell College, Armstrong Gallery, Mount Vernon, IA, 1995

Marriott Hotel Lobby, Michigan State University, East Lansing, 1996

Materials: 250-350 broccoli stalks/roots, 2000 lbs. of organic cornmeal, coyote skeleton, plywood

A New World Burial (One God, One Faith, One Crop) explores what Wendell Berry calls the "unsettling of America", or the sequence of conquest and settlement.  Military conquest of Indians was often followed by the settlement of their lands by European Americans, who perceived that they had a natural right to it.  As Wes Jackson writes in Becoming Native to This Place (1994), "Indians were viewed as obstacles, surplus people, which validated killing them off, or moving them off, making their land available for our settlement.  It became a pattern in American history, and without realizing it, we had established a precedent.  In due time the descendants of those settlers also became surplus people.  The old farm families were removed and their rural communities destroyed as the industrial revolution infiltrated agriculture."

This installation examines the effects of industrial agriculture on small farmers, agrarian communities and the ecological decimation caused by unsustainable agricultural practices.  Just as historical manifest destiny helped extirpate the indigenous cultures of America, contemporary manifest destiny can be seen in federal trade policies such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This agreement will help disintegrate not only the small farmers of this country, but those to the south of us in Mexico as well.  By combining Old and New World cultures (symbolized by over 250 broccoli stalks and roots "planted" in 2000 lbs. of organic cornmeal), I critically explore the way our nation is being manifested through modern agriculture.