Michael Campbell lives and works in the San Francisco Bay-Area. He grew up in the Midwest in the 1970's amid the handicraft movement with a home full of macramé, decoupage, and paper-mâché. 1,600 miles away from Haight-Ashbury, he made God's eyes in Cub Scouts and glued macaroni onto wooden crosses in Sunday School. From an early age, handcrafted objects and the divine were connected.
"My art explores the mystical experience and its connection to the natural world. In his book, The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James wrote: “One may say, truly, I think, that personal religious experience has its root and center in mystical states of consciousness.” Our relationship with the natural world is complicated and often troubled. Our collective Western attitude towards nature has been one of conquest rather than cooperation. And we have become more and more removed from our natural origins as a result. This alienation from nature is deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian view that divinity and nature are separate. Nature is wild and subordinate to humanity and must be tamed. And to not tame our own nature, to allow it to run unbridled, is utterly sinful in the eyes of God.
I’m curious about death and what lies beyond the veil of life. I’m interested in crossing that bridge by exploring our connection to the mysterious hidden kingdom of fungi. As decomposers of dead, organic matter, mushrooms are symbols of the imminent life and death process. They release enzymes to break down and feed on dead matter. It is fascinating that an organism that makes room for new growth by clearing away dead matter from the forest floor is also an entheogen that, through transcendent states of consciousness, clears our own cluttered spiritual pathways. Just as Alice ate from the mushroom and grew smaller in Alice in Wonderland, so does the human ego under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms. Mushrooms are nature's teachers. They teach humility and show us how we are all connected. There is divinity in nature. All life is interwoven and truly what we do to nature we do to ourselves."
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