Women on the Edge of Time

Lucy Wilner

Ever After / After Eve

2019, Acrylic on gessoed paper, 28″(H) x 23″(W)

This painting uses graphic symbols to meld the Genesis story of Eve with today’s ideas about our origins. Adam and Eve are situated in a timeline, running from the bottom of the page to the top, from stromatolites, the first fossil records of life, to the cloud of babies, which are Eve’s progeny, in other words, ourselves. I presented Adam and Eve as silhouettes so that they do not have a realistic skin tone – they represent all races and ethnicities. Eve, proffering her apple, shelters under the tree of life, which in this case is a phylogenetic tree. The incredible complexity of the phylogenetic tree defies imaging as a 2-D graphic, so I approached the challenge by simplifying the problem, yet still keeping the basic structure intact. The major branches of life are indicated by differently colored shapes. Early life forms come off the tree separately at the bottom. Plants are separated from animals and animals are separated into vertebrates and invertebrates. Reading across the top of the tree from left to right are reptiles, birds, mammals, amphibians, fish, and arthropods. At the top of the composition, the cloud of babies, branching off the mammals, is shown overshadowing the other animals. The sad situation is that as we humans have improved our own health, productivity and comfort, we have altered the balance between ourselves and other species. Our numbers have increased from 990 million in 1800 to 7.8 billion today (even with a recent slight decrease in the rate of growth.) At the same time, for example, the biomass of all insects has been reduced by 70%. Our burgeoning population exacerbates every environmentally-related problem that we have, including resource depletion, forest fires, plastics pollution, and pandemics. Only by protecting the environment and by yielding space for the survival of other species can we avoid disasters, epidemics, and the holocaust, which would otherwise be the natural consequences of our selfish behavior. I hope that our future brings a massive turnaround: fewer of us and more of them. For the sake of all of Eve’s babies.

Video short: Lucy Wilner

NYSWA: Lucy Wilner