© 2019 By Joseph Rossano

EDNA 

 

 

EDNA is not a long lost relative, or partner, though she is the love of my life.

She is also the love of many of our lives: she is, in many ways, our mother earth. EDNA is an acronym for environmental DNA (eDNA), the biological trace of organisms that remain present in surrounding water, soil, or air. Instead of finding and capturing indivdual organisms in open water, or even a shovelful of earth, then extracting their DNA, today using bioinformatics tools to identify the individual organisms from which the DNA was sloughed, scientists can now isolate, and en masse read DNA left behind in the environment itself. 

The biological equivalent of the tip of an iceberg, these fragments of being quite literally expose the DNA of previous visitors, extinct or extant, invasive or endemic and their ecological milieus across time. DNA can be extracted from an ice core and used to identify a mastodon as well as the flora (and their pollen) through which it lumbered. These organisms have not lived in this world for 10,000 years and yet their genetic remnants – a record of their individual natural histories – reveal a place in the past that was, previously unrecognizable and unreachable, even while held in one’s hand.

My EDNA works pay homage to place. Water, soil and air nurtured the forests from which each artwork is constructed, hosting many increasingly rare species. Reflecting the concept of eDNA, I depict animals that lived in these forests, exposing them on the environment’s salvaged remnants – plywood, cedar, ash, tar, and more.

EDNA as perceived through our five and more senses, is a sampling of organisms and their daily life, imagery, material, and place, united in composing a much larger narrative of life – all life. 

 

Forest For The Trees

"I was first drawn to the delicate strokes of the images of Joseph's work. The lovely but haunting eyes.  Both a sense of motion and a sense of profound stillness. A contrast to the rough beauty of the wood, the flat commercial stamped words on the large plywood. And I could feel myself drawn much deeper as if the animals were indeed there with me, alive. Each one holds so much story. A DNA of story. All of Joseph's work on these pieces holds so much story. It is our story, our world, our DNA. His hands hold the story out to us. I was pierced by love of his work and his story, his careful listening of the earth's story. The reminder that we are all here together. I feel changed by the experience of his work. And yet, each time I look at one, it is the beauty that draws me in. Stays deep in my heart.

 

Anna Linzer, poet and writer

Ghost Dancing and Home Waters