‘Rhizome, 2021’ is a piece that represents an idea I’ve been exploring since 2005 when I first started traveling to the desert Southwest. The idea is that different races and ethnic groups of humans have a spiritual connection to parts of the earth that they are native to. The idea is that people naturally grow out of certain places on the earth just like certain vegetation grows naturally out of certain environments. Indigenous populations have a type of spiritual, invisible root system that tethers them to their native lands. As a metaphor, I liken that spiritual connection to the earth to the concept of a rhizome. A rhizome is something akin to a massive, sprawling underground root system. Any naturally occurring layer of indigenous vegetation above ground can be mowed down, for example, but its underground rhizome remains unaffected and vital. Grass for example, or any other other foreign vegetation with shallow roots, can be planted on a mowed surface and take shallow root. The foreign vegetation can even appear to dominate the landscape for a time, even a long time in some cases. But ultimately the presence of the rhizome prevents anything foreign from gaining any kind of a permanent foothold on the land. It’s just a matter of time, usually when the superficial layer of foreign vegetation is weakened for some reason, before the rhizome will inevitably reassert itself on the surface of it’s own native ground. Years of traveling in New Mexico have convinced me that the remaining Native American populations of the desert Southwest, and indigenous people all over the world for that matter, are anchored to the their native lands through a type of spiritual rhizome that ultimately gives them a staying power that non-indigenous populations do not have…

“Rhizome”, Denise C. Marts, 2021, all rights reserved

36”x48” mixed acrylic media and collage on canvas, Denise C. Marts, 2021, all rights reserved