The Daily Planet

Rhonda Smith
Anderson Gallery
October 31- December 6, 2019


The Daily Planet was the reporter Clark Kent’s (aka Superman) newspaper. But our daily planet is now the central news item. The earth, a place of wonderment and abundance, has asked little of its humans. Pretty soon its ruination will occur with the speed of a time-lapse film. What an opportunity for human behavior to elevate itself. As Superman is not coming we shall each have to go into a telephone booth or its contemporary equivalent and change our clothes. Is this possible?

My cold war childhood birthed an undercurrent in me of the dystopian attitude at best, the apocalyptic at worst, despite my optimist’s nature. Though I saw the worst of adult behavior, elders also fostered in me a love and respect of nature. So I feel ineffable sadness now watching nature, adaptive, reactive, intelligent, not able to retain its former composition. Stephen M. Meyer in his essay-length book End of the Wild wrote that there are three species existing on Earth today: Weed Species which include any species that can co-exist with humans such as turkeys, rabbits, deer, coyotes, cockroaches, rats; Ghost Species which is any species here now but with an extinction clock running down (think elephants and lions); and Relic Species which are creatures or plants of whose stock there are only one or two left. As I am writing this the National Geographic’s cover photo was of the death of the last male white rhino. Really? Is this what we want? I think that radical change from Clark Kent to Superman is what is asked of us. We have been given a planet so beautiful and incredibly complex. Now we must atone and live a very different life. Something in my optimist’s nature is called, something of that darker undercurrent stirs.

I have created an installation, a battlesight, that visualizes my distraught view of human versus nature. Buildings, constructed of clay, wire and found materials, represent humankind. They are ambitious yet under assault. The nature component in this installation is intent on being yet also besieged, showing signs of the intense, toxic ventures of humans. I feel compelled to atone for this burden of sadness; this is an inner life action. Outer life choices seem possible on a local scale; the larger scenario depends a great deal on cooperation and our capacity to listen. I don’t want to look at more ghosts. Most of us don’t.