The snail, best known for its slow rate of movement, "A snail's pace", is of symbolic importance. Having all its belongings with it at every moment within a harmonically formed spiral shell, it is a creature of self-sufficiency. Moving slowly, the snail consumes an appropriate diet, maintains its health and reproduces at a prolific pace. As a species, they survive brilliantly even though they are slow.
This series of work began after reading Barbara Kingslover's Prodigal Summer – a novel which describes man's attempts to destroy certain species which unwittingly results in their over production. Finding a creative solution for something often considered the enemy is far more satisfying than impulsive destruction.
In the garden, I noticed snails eating the fresh, new growth of some of my plants. My first impulse was to kill them with snail bait. Something stopped me; I believe it was Ms. Kingslover's message percolating through me long after I read her book. The snails now became objects of interest, observation, and fascination. Noticing their rhythmic undulations, I wondered what kind of a mark they would make. This musing became the starting point of a collaborative series.
Using a nontoxic mixture of Dr. Martin inks and aquapasto, the snails were placed on mylar. Their movements, mucus, excrement, and ink mixture made a beautiful lacy texture. Their non-objective marks lent the work an abstracted quality that I worked intuitively. Over the course of several weeks, they produced eggs that became part of our work. After a year and a half, a number of different ideas with and about snails have been explored on mylar.
The snails thrived, reproduced and were kept in an aquarium with plants, water and food. After two springs, they earned their well deserved freedom in a nearby park.