Jordan Tierney, Symbiocene Epoch Shaman, acts as a catalyst for deep kinship with our planet.
To encounter her practice is to be transported to a spiritual and timeless space. Her art is an experience. A revelation. A way to be reminded of our common humanity and our connection to powerful natural forces. She shares her artwork to inspire other human earthlings to slow down and reconnect with themselves, each other and the living breathing planet that is our home.
Her process begins by wandering daily in her immediate environment. The subject matter and materials are gathered on foot. The things she finds on the ground are clues to what she doesn’t directly witness. Each find has a story to tell.
In the 1990’s she lurked in the crumbling alleyways of a struggling socio-economically divided Washington DC. Those alleys functioned as twilight zones of activities ignored and feared by the marble columned institutions looming a few blocks away. She has always felt a kinship with the unseen or marginalized. The categorization of anything not fitting into the dominant paradigm as “other” has run parallel to the colonialist capitalist view of the Earth and living beings as as merely resources for profit. She built tableaus of the injustice of generations of greed and its collateral damage with the evidence she found- Fireball liquor bottles, abandoned furniture from evictions, broken toys, and flat rats. She was more openly pessimistic in those days- one piece was titled “Ever Thus”.
Her most recent work grows from over a decade of inhabiting and studying Baltimore’s urban streams and tangled forest buffers. These hidden waterways were designed to channel storm water out of sight, from all our impervious surfaces like roads, shopping malls, and housing developments. The water transports all the trash and pollution it collects along the way, to the Jones Falls, then the Chesapeake Bay, and out to the Atlantic Ocean. These zones are between-worlds. The marginalized, unwanted or unprofitable. Strung with invasive vines, they feel post-apocalyptic as industrial era machine parts rust away to join with mushrooms and bones. While exploring this territory, Jordan feels a mixture of awe at the resilience and lush life that manages to grow in such an abused environment and horror at the way we have treated Earth. Noticing patterns and aberrations of Earth’s processes mingled with how earthlings behave, she worries about climate collapse and her daughter’s future. For a long time she grieved and raged at what humans have wrought. She pulls refuse from the streams and woods, removes invasive plants and vines, and tries to live sustainably. To manage the distress over what we have lost, she uses her skills and a little sorcery to change the valence of the trash she collects from negative to positive, imagining a more soulful future for us all.
Her walks are an urban form of beach combing as she collects parts of trees downed in floods and objects cast off by humans for use in the studio. She weaves the overlooked into a poetic visual presence hoping to remind us all that all life is beautiful and complicated and magical. This process of observing nature, collecting trash, and making art has become a spiritual practice. Her artworks are what she imagines a shaman of the future might create to speak of the mysteries of the universe. She believes indigenous is something we have responsibility to be now, not just something from the past. People who live close to the land live sustainably with what they can find in their immediate environment. Jordan enjoys that kind of resourcefulness. Each artwork is a manifestation of many days of labor. This kind of devotion only happens when we love something. She loves this planet and is grateful for the places her feet touch the ground here.
Jordan was born on Long Island NY. She received her BFA from MICA in 1985. Since then she has worked as an illustrator, owned a custom framing and art handling business, renovated houses and galleries, fabricated exhibits for the Smithsonian, the BMA and AVAM and often teaches immersive outdoor art workshops. Jordan lives and works in Baltimore with her wife, daughter, dogs, and stacks of books all over the house.