I first came across Greg Mort’s artwork while writing a piece on Carl Sagan’s The Pale Blue Dot. The image immediately drew my eye: Two apples situated against a black backdrop, one golden and freshly unwrapped; the other painted as the Earth. Attached to the stem of the pole, a blank price tag. Stewardship, the piece was called.
The image and title struck me. It forced me to contemplate, not for the first or last time, what stewardship truly entails, what value I place on the well-being of the world that sustains all. It both broadened and deepened my innate desire to care, as art can sometimes do.
With his work prominently displayed in museums, art galleries, and even the White House, I am honoured to have permission from Mort’s studio curator to feature and explore a few of my favourite works. As with other art-oriented Ekostories, I hope to let the visuals speak for themselves and allow you, the reader, the space and time to discover the stories they have to tell. So enjoy. If you are interested in my musings and questions, I’ve provided them as well.
The Stewardship Series
With permission from Greg Mort studios.
For me, there is a delicacy of care in Mort’s portrayal of the Earth in his Stewardship Series. In the first image, both apple and planet are unwrapped and exposed, alive and vibrant but easily bruised. For me, the blank tag posits some interesting questions: What is the value we place on the health of our collective home? Can and should it even be measured by a price tag?
Stewardship II situates the Earth inside a glass orb. To me, this seems to equivocate the two as breakable objects, fragile and precious. What kinds of messages are sent by the portrayal of a beautiful but delicate world?
Stewardship III shows the world being peeled away, reminding me that proportion-wise, the thickness of an apple’s peel is comparable to the gossamer layer of air that hugs our world: We are literally breathing in the skin of the earth.
Sea to Sky and Back Again
“It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.”
– Log From the Sea of Cortez, p. 178
Working on the recent piece on Steinbeck with that quote reverberating in my mind, I began to appreciate how Mort juxtaposes objects of different scales in many of his works: The apple and the earth; a glass sphere and the planet.
With permission from Greg Mort’s Studios.
In Stream of Stars, he contrasts shells on the beach against the lights of the cosmos, both groups beyond count. In Sea and Sky, he blends the foam of the sea with the churn of the universe, evoking a sort of yin/yang imagery divided by a porous boundary. Finally in Golden Spiral, he ties together the subatomic and the galactic with the language of mathematics, composing the painting with the Fibonacci sequence of numbers.
There are many more images on Mort’s website. I’ll leave off this week with a video and a few more questions. Looking forward to your thoughts.
- What do you think about the style of Greg Mort’s work?
- Do you have a favourite image? Why?
- What messages, if any, do they communicate to you?
- How do you define stewardship?
- Can you think of any others works that strive to connect the minuscule with the vast?