Speculating on possibilities beyond environmental collapse, my work Pervasive merges anatomies and landscapes into single sculptural forms. Departing from past dioramas that processed these critical dilemmas in miniature environments, my new series Pervasive—seen here in my Pioneer Works studio—awards humanity’s current “pests” a monumental scale; they explore the idea of “new beginnings,” and are influenced by speculative fiction in historical and contemporary writing, visual art, and popular culture, from Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights to antique sailing maps of imagined territories.

These various “nuisance species” are common to the borough of Brooklyn, and they include the scarlet pimpernel, barnyard grass, silverfish, bedbug, dandelion, and cockroach. They’re each elevated on bases that appear composed of the ashen, industrial detritus of a collapsed city. Richly crafted, they’re made of wooden substructures enhanced with papier-mâché, air-drying clays, and textiles, rendered over in acrylic. The finished sculptures will comprise a single installation that will be presented on a low runway.

Walking in formation over the rubble of a collapsed world, the figures’ triumphant march symbolizes both the resilience of the natural world and the readiness for a new ecology to take shape. Both tender and darkly humorous, the work references eclectic sources, from the despondent insects in Roald Dahl’s 1961 novel James and the Giant Peach to the optimism of archival images from 1970’s Earth Day parades.

-Jude Griebel