Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful In Bed with the Tropicals, 2015, inaction Photo: Frances Pollitt / Courtesy of Nicolás Dumit Estévez In Bed with the Tropicals consisted of a five-hour stopover by a sleeping subject in Wave Hill’s conservatory, NY. This dormant being rested uninterruptedly, side by side with the vast array of orchids, lichens, air plants and ferns that make up the lush greenhouse’s collection. In this exercise, which relied on inaction, the cessation of the most visible movements on behalf of the sleeper were meant to put him on a par with the imperceptible activity generated by the plant world around him. In Bed with the Tropicals was meant to conjure images of hibernation, catalepsy, the Dormition of the Virgin, and the continuous interplay between life and death. It also signaled the urgent call for what deep ecology activist Joanna Macy refers to as the “greening of the self” or the eco-self; an awareness for one’s inextricable interdependence with all living beings irrespective of the lesser status “humans” have assigned to them.

“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.”

-Wendell Berry

Ours is a society of stuff. We purchase to pursue a better self, a better life, a better experience in the world. We live in an age of instantaneous acquisition, a time when the click of a button can summon goods to our door in a matter of hours. No longer do we need to leave home to accumulate, it is possible to shun the outside world and covet it at the same time. The truth is, none of these items fulfills the promise of changing us or our lives in any way. We receive them and experience the rush of endorphins that comes with newness, but before long another fix is all that can maintain the facade. The cycle is endless unless we consciously choose to disrupt it and it is choking our world. We are drowning in our own stuff.

Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful Espejo Ovalles joined us in October to discuss his work. Ovalles believes we have collectively entered a new dimension as a result of the last few years and the extreme negativity they have wrought. Because of the digital world we find ourselves in, Ovalles has had the opportunity to interact with people around the world he otherwise might not have been able to, a benefit of the altered state of the world that counters some of the negativity. One such connection is a group he joins every two weeks to discuss death and dying. In addition, Ovalles recently taught a workshop on ancestors at Copper Beech Institute. These opportunities to connect simply would not have materialized if it hadn’t been for the changes the pandemic set in motion. To hear more about Ovalles experience of the last few years as well as his work, listen to the complete interview.

Amaranth Borsuk spoke to us from Seattle in late October. A writer, she explained that at the start of the pandemic she was on sabbatical working on multiple manuscripts. As she was finding a rhythm with this – while also having a one-year-old at home – the world changed profoundly. She suddenly found herself without childcare and having a difficult time setting aside the tumultuous events of the pandemic and civil unrest that marked the last few years. Borsuk decided to take back up with a collaborator. She has worked with a few collaborative partners – all also mothers, which offers an immediate connection. To hear more about how the experience of parenting has changed Borsuk’s work and life, and to hear live readings of her work, listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

The most powerful thing you can purchase is nothing.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews is here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Praxis usder Jennifer Barth recommends World Ending Fire by Wendell Berry. To explore the writing of Amaranth Borsuk, click here.


Watershed Ceramics invites applications for the Salad Days residency. Salad Days is Watershed’s annual fundraiser event, celebrating ceramics and locally-sourced food. The selected artist in residence will be commissioned to produce hundreds of plates of shallow bowls for the event. There is a $4,000 stipend for this residency. For more information, and to apply, visit the website. Deadline for applications is February 15.


Brainard Carey is an author, artist and educator. He is the director of Praxis for Aesthetics. He has written six books for artists; Making it in the Art World, New Markets for Artists, The Art World Demystified, Fund Your Dreams Like a Creative Genius, Sell Online Like a Creative Genius, and Succeed with Social Media Like a Creative Genius. His book, Making it in the Art World, is available now with bonus content here.


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