Reiko Goto

My artistic subject matter is the life of nature.
By contemplating nature, I seek to renew my own identity.

My ecological and environmental art practice involves two attempts; one is to ask nature, and the other one is to enter into a community of nature, to seek its support with other people. What does it mean to ask nature? I have heard that the Inuit have many different words for describing various kinds of snow. The Inuit can verify not only the different shapes and textures of snow, but also the different conditions when it falls. Careful observations and generations of life experiences make the Inuit understand snow in a different way than people who live out side of their region and culture. I am not an Inuit, but I seek to understand nature. I would like to attempt to become native to this place that I am occupying. I seek relationships with people that have been or are becoming native to this place. I seek a community of care.

Transformation starts at the moment when people gather to discuss their place. Each community has different interests, struggles, and relationships to its place. Each community includes people who have observed and stood as witnesses for the nature that defines its regions. I would like to find new ways for people to speak, see, and find new ideas and methods for creative engagement with their place. I am interested in experience, dialogue, mutual values, diverse visions, and real examples about culture, nature, and place.

I believe everything has life and spirit. How could we help support the spirit of rivers? The word spirit comes from the Latin word spiritus , breathing or spirare, to breath. The definition of spirit in an English dictionary is “an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms.” Rivers breathe in and out constantly. It is most obvious in the spring and fall, because the water is cooler than the air in the spring, and warmer than the air in the fall. Rivers exchange vapors in the form of low lying clouds, fog, and swirling mists. We see the rivers’ breath like we see our own on cold days.

Once I learned to take care of baby wild life. I would pay attention to the sound of the baby’s breathing. When one was ill, one of the most affective treatments was simply to hold it warmly. Sometimes I wonder how I can learn to hold and care for a river. Could I ever be sensitive enough yet expansive enough to hear its breath?

The spirit and heart of the arts is creativity. Creativity is an ability that everyone possesses. Creativity is the process of changing our place, our culture, and its ecological context. We must clear away the old, to make way for the new. It is the shame of loss, and even death, which is the pre-condition of rebirth and new life. This is a natural condition that occurs and reoccurs each year in nature and in human communities. Creating change and transformation, we must consider radical democratic processes that include diverse human communities. We must listen to natural silent participants in our place: the sunshine, air, clouds, trees, grass, water in the rivers, and the beings that live on the land, in the air, and in the water. A change and transformation takes time. Often we cannot predict how long it will take, and it can be very hard to tell whether it is successful or not. If an artist chooses a life of inquiry in a social or ecological transformation, she must be flexible to work with many different kinds of people, life-forces, places, materials, and subject matters. The conditions of the opportunity, along with the funding, and place define the opportunity and constraint. The artist must seek different ways to express and present her ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Each creative effort has a moment of intent, the beginning and ultimately an ending. This leads us to the next cycle of creative engagement and practice.