Let me take a moment here to explain why I was so intrigued by this dirt. I don't really know exactly why myself, but ever since I was a child I've loved dirt. Over the years as I've gotten into learning about youth and community development I've discovered that there are microorganisms in dirt that can help calm people down, relieve anxiety and help with a myriad of physical and emotional as well as psychological issues. Even dirt that is not the healthiest garden variety has healthy qualities for us to be around, and though I didn't know that as a child, I happily played in gardens and dug under fall leaves for the first shoots of spring and never minded when my older brother asked me to dig worms for his variety of pets like his turtles, or for the birds that sometimes fell out of their nests far too young and needed to be fed until they could learn to fly. As an adult I've continued my love of gardening, and I always have dirt around the house. Dirt just feels good to have around for some reason, and so when I heard about Dylan and the dirt I wanted to find out what was being created with it.
For a number of years I lived in SoHo near where the Artist Walter De Maria has an installation called The New York Earth Room that was commissioned and is maintained by Dia Art Foundation and which is a permanent room full of dirt in what is now, and was by the time I was living down the block, one of the highest per square inch real estate areas in the country if not the world. And one of the first exhibits I saw that completely took my breath away was of Arnulf Rainer's soot and earth covered white christening dresses in a smaller gallery setting outside of the usual New York City museums. I'll never forget that show as long as I live - it takes my breath away just to think of it now. So dirt is not only something that is wonderfully healthy to play in as a child and as an adult, but it is powerful as a medium for an Artist.
A recent graduate from Adelphi University with a Bachelors in Fine Arts, Dylan Coppola has a wider range of work than those pieces that incorporate the dirt, but for me those are very powerful, and through the work that I saw at ESKFF I saw reflected a way to express something about the natural world and what we are doing as humans by leaving trash in it, mucking around in it and generally misusing this life-giving substance. In addition to the pieces that were created with dirt, there were other pieces that incorporated leaves, fabric, and other every day found objects, covered in paint and layered over to create something that was entirely different and yet still familiar. Dylan sent me a few photographs of the finished pieces, and they are extraordinarily captivating. I could look at these works over long periods of time and still see something new every moment. The pieces are beautiful, unique, and they tell a story, one that has a history as old as the hills and is as new as each passing moment. Dirt, leaves and the natural world are alive, and though we may think we are the only organisms that think and breathe, being around these substances helps us to take the much needed step of thinking again.
At Mana Contemporary
Photographs Courtesy Of Dylan Coppola