Maps are created by humans for humans. They tell us where we are and how to get somewhere else. They don't tell us that the land they represent is a section of the face of our living earth; we weren’t taught to see stories in the soil, rivers, forests, and deserts. 

These maps are portraits. The political boundaries and labels are not important; look at this illustration of land and water in a new light-- as living things with hearts and souls. Can we see that land as a moving, breathing creature, worthy of love and care? How would we treat the earth differently if we knew this creature-- remembered the trees, mountains, food and home it sustains for us?  If we saw it as a child and parent, and took direction from its life’s story?

Every being we have ever known has shared this earth. We are lost and found in its system, a population of earthmates connected by our one home, looking for something that is all around us, that is in us, that is completely us.


Because images of humans invoke cultural tendencies of prejudice, it is impossible to represent the human species with an individual or even a group of individuals. The idea is to portray humans without race, gender, or other general characteristics that separate us from each other. They come across as uncategorized creatures: earthmates.

This planet is constantly changing—not just our cultures, laws, numbers, standards, and social relationships, but climate, geography, and ecology too.  The challenge we face is finding a balance between the human gift of intelligence and the human gift of morality, and knowing how to accept responsibility with our power.

This art is a conversation.  It's talking about relationships in biology, anthropology, destruction, and sustainability.  It's talking about sense and hope, without the intention of guilt or failure-- intending to draw questions from the viewer about our own roles in these relationships.  It's an extension of the capacity to endure, and its purpose is to plant a seed.



Somehow the act of moving through the world distracts us from how to do it truthfully.

Humanity is a tangle of relationships with each other and the world around us, with muddy constructs constantly pulling us away from what connects us. How can we strip away the conditions that separate us from each other, and give weight to vulnerability, integrity, and power in a way that lifts everyone up together?

As my work evolves, themes about gender, race, human need, and the earth and its creatures intersect and move to ask big questions about relationships.

Recently this has come out in large paintings of androgynous women that beg conversation about gender, femininity, and power.

 joey hartmann-dow, 2018