torytepp.com
The Alchemy of Dirt.

As the cultural expression of the human condition of our time, art reflects our own complexity in its multitude of personalities, ideas and desires. By its nature as a language of creativity and critical thought, art is capable of engaging in any conversation initiated by human curiosity. And as the languages of contemporary art making expand and evolve, they gain a cultural elasticity that allows them to incorporate and translate the languages of other disciplines. This provides artists a vast array of networks and systems within which to explore and open a dialogue. My investigations as a cultural landscaper have led me to a series of ecological conversations surrounding a loss of our spiritual identity as a result of the lost fundamental symbiosis between humans and the natural environment within which we live and upon which our existence depends. As the vast amount of information available suggests, the state of the natural world and the state of human civilization, linked as they are, are in critical condition.

As such, I explore these relationships with a sense of esoteric urgency and political severity, steering the conversation towards a re-forging lost relationships and re-acquiring discarded knowledge. The process of art making becomes a refined instrument towards perceptual attunement and alignment. The rituals and architectures of public art process become a crucible within which small transformations of community relationships are urged, heated, transformed. From the most basic of materials, earth, water, communal labor and play, a physical entity can be developed and grow. And from the continued nourishing and working and observing of these malleable, fluid, living materials over time, the art happens in the mind, in the shared experience. Its a transformation of understanding through direct and invested experience.

Though a craftsman by nature, I find the expression of beauty contained within objects or structures to only be as relevant as the purpose they serve within their ecosystem. I use my skills as a craftsman to create evocative sets within which to perform pedagogical and investigative actions and interventions. Agricultural ritual, labor and play meld to create a psychic architecture that , though often temporary, resonates within a community as each participant becomes an essential form within the larger structure. In cities rife with post-industrial decay and the economic desolation of the pervasive capitalistic immorality of our time, public spaces are crying out to be renewed and communities are demanding to be heard.

The creative currency generated from the informal cultural economies of vacant lots and motivated neighbors, I find to be far more productive and valuable than the insular white walls of a system that has become just another bank in an increasingly oppressive financial regime. There is a revolution of ideas latent in every seed, every plot of earth, every pair of curious hands and every moment of injustice. Through creative solutions and systemic thinking, the power of transformation falls from a white pedestal that silently glares, “do not touch”, to an cacophony of hands getting dirty together. Every garden becomes an act of defiance. Every mind changed by experiencing the process of growing and eating your own food becomes liberated. Every pair of dirty hands joined in creative process becomes a conduit for the energy of change. I am an artist, a farmer, a teacher and an alchemist.