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As an earth scientist, immersed in the study of biogeochemical processes, the exhibition Nature and Culture by Elzbieta Sikorska has true resonance.

The 49-panel centerpiece, with its “partial reveals” from front to back viewing, is emblematic of the way in which the nature and properties of complex natural systems and their responses to human activity are unpeeled and teased apart by scientific investigation. The full story is rarely apparent by simple observation, and the same is true in this piece and its companion drawings in the exhibition. The reveals come unexpectedly as one is drawn into, behind, and across the various images. Examining the front and back of the panels to uncover new truths is a dynamic, engaging analog to the way scientists interrogate a soil profile, a wetland sediment, a lagoon’s water column, or the surface of Mars.

The human footprint on ecosystems may be deeply etched or barely apparent. The same here, and with its multiple layers of imagery and metaphor, the plane of Sikorska’s handmade paper assumes the additional dimensions of depth and time — a fallen log becomes a soldier’s lance — a native hunter becomes a 20th century warrior. With its craftsmanship, grace and power, the journey through Nature and Culture is unforgettable.



Edward Landa,

Earth Scientist, Artist