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?
Thank you for the introduction to Greg Mort. I especially like his connection to the finite and infinite, our world and the universe, the patterns and voices. This was especially relevant to me as I am doing some research into Paul Cezanne and his thoughts on an “apple.”
“With an apple I will astonish Paris.”Paul Cezanne
My pleasure. I hope to read your thoughts on Cezanne soon!
There is so much to learn, to much to share, to experience. My quote for today is:
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” Henry David Thoreau
Welcome to a new week! 🙂
Very timely quotes for me personally, even the “welcome to a new week!” Love your work, and thanks for sharing.
I enjoy all of his artwork that you showed. The globe apples stand out for me. Personally, the apple also connects to the story of Genesis in the Bible where humans were given the responsibility of stewardship over our world. Of course, there is the myth of Adam and Eve falling from grace by eating an apple. So, I like the layers of meaning that Mort is playing with, just in the peeling of the apple to reveal the earth.
I’m so glad you shared his work with us.
Very cool connection I somehow missed. Of course! 🙂
This artwork is lovely. I was not familiar with Greg Mort. Like Karen above, I saw the connection between the apple and Genesis, although there’s further still symbolism attached to an apple: the ancient Celtic people viewed the sharing of an apple between and man and woman an expression of love and innocence; also, our modern maxim of “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. In this case, perhaps viewing the earth as an apple is meant to put us in mind of health, both the planet’s and our own, which are one and the same in any case.
I like the health angle very much – it makes so much sense that I have to wonder if that was a chief motivation for the paintings in the first place.
Also, did you know the “apple a day” saying was developed by the apple industry to clean up their image after being associated with rampant alcoholism by the temperance movement?
No, I didn’t know that. How were apples associated with alcoholism?
People planted apple trees not for edible fruit (because apples grown from seed are nothing like the parent plant and are rarely palatable), but for hard cider. So Johnny Appleseed takes on a bit of a less wholesome image 🙂
Michael Pollan delves into the history of apples in his book The Botany of Desire. Great read if you’re interested.
Reblogged this on Artsnsciences’s Weblog.
My favorite images from Greg where the night skies washing up upon the shoreline filled with shells and starfish. The idea that we are all made up of star bits resonates with me.
I think I’m with you as well. The stewardship apple pictures are striking, but there’s something about that interface between shell and stars that speaks to me. I’m also stunned at the meticulous detail – If you watch the video, I think Mort talks about how he tries to make sure the constellations are actually identifiable.