Claire Pentecost | 2018 Prairie Festival Artist

September 26 - December 16, 2018

Claire Pentecost (born 1956, Baltimore, Maryland, United States) is an artist/activist focusing on food, soil, and bio-engineering; and a professor of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Pentecost’s exhibition at Salina Art Center includes pieces from three current projects.

 Driftless Pasture, 2017, soil chromatography on paper, courtesy of the artist

Driftless Pasture, 2017, soil chromatography on paper, courtesy of the artist

OLD FRIENDS & UNLOVED OTHERS

“Old friends” is the term coined by Dr. Graham Rook to refer to the many, mostly microbial, life forms who live in and on our bodies. These creatures co-evolved in symbiotic relationships with humans and help perform vital functions such as efficient and painless digestion. In fact, we need these friends in our environment too. The human child’s exposure to microbes living in healthy soil and those living on and around animals actually teaches our immune system to regulate itself.

Unfortunately we in the affluent countries have destroyed a lot of these helpers with generations of abuse of antibiotics, as well as widespread use of microbicidal cleansers and pesticides.

The drawings refer to living forms in our biological and social ecosystems that are often ignored, feared, scorned or despised, the factors endangering them, and some of the consequences.

 Cowshed Muck, 2017, soil chromatography on paper, courtesy of the artist

Cowshed Muck, 2017, soil chromatography on paper, courtesy of the artist

PROPOSAL FOR A NEW AMERICAN  AGRICULTURE

For Proposal for a New American Agriculture, Pentecost placed a US flag in a composting bin in her basement in Chicago, removing and photographing it after worms had transformed most of it into soil.

“One of the vital things that goes on in soil is the transformation of waste and dead organisms into nutrients for new life. The worm composting system is a compact way that anyone can make this happen. By putting organic waste through a population of worms and symbiotic bacteria, anyone can make the most nutrient-rich soil available. It’s full of life,” Pentecost.

 Dust Bowl Interior, 2017, soil chromatography on paper, courtesy of the artist

Dust Bowl Interior, 2017, soil chromatography on paper, courtesy of the artist

SOIL CHROMATOGRAPHY

Pentecost has collected soil samples to be used for experiments in soil chromatography, a rare technique that derives an image from the application of a carefully prepared solution to a piece of light-sensitive filter paper. Her “soil portraits” are both incredibly beautiful and incredibly useful, all at once. Soil chromatography is a way of assessing soil for humus, minerals, microbiology and more.