Ariel McKnight Burgess – artist statement
I am an ecological artivist. I am dedicated to creating a more sustainable and resilient future, in which humans give and care for the earth as much as, or more than, we take and flourish from it.
I am an environmental activist because climate change, environmental destruction, and humanity’s disconnection to the natural world are the most universal and influential challenges we face today.
Much of my art focuses on the relationship between humans and the natural environment, climate change, environmental destruction, and science.
I am inspired by the power, beauty, dynamism and fragility of the natural world; powerful and passionate artists and art of all kinds; and the strong and determined individuals and organizations actively building a better future for us all.
Cathartes EcoArt and Consulting LLC
Cathartes’ mission is to improve our human relationship to the rest of the natural world by offering the power of artistic services to environmental organizations to strengthen their work and support their mission. The universal language of art can speak across cultures, nationalities, and spoken languages. It can help articulate complex scientific data, inspire action, change one’s perspective, and begin important conversations. Whatever your environmental project may be, Cathartes is here to help you make it a successful work of art.
“Cathartes” (pronounced cath-art) comes from the Greek “katharsis” which means to purify and cleanse. It is also the genus for three of the New World vultures: the turkey vulture, and the lesser and greater yellow-headed vultures. Never killing their food, vultures only take what is not wanted by others. They cleanse the earth by consuming the dead. By doing so, they purify the ecosystem as well as transform death into new life. Vultures soar high in the sky on updrafts seemingly effortlessly. Rather than forcing their way through constant flapping, they tune into the rhythms of the earth and therein find all the power they need. When they have young, vultures are attentive mothers, protecting and caring for their young tenderly. For these reasons and more, vultures have played integral parts in ancient myths from around the world including in Egyptian, Mayan, Tibetan, and Native American lore. For me, vultures are a powerful metaphor for how I aim to live on Earth. As my business and work is a reflection of my personal mission, I could not think of a more-fitting name to work under than Cathartes.
Who is Cathartes?
The short answer is, “I am.” For the past nine years I have worked as an artist and environmentalist. On any given day I may be conducting conservation field work, writing about science for the public, painting a mural, creating a project proposal, or working on graphic design. My BA is in environmental studies and studio art from the University of Vermont and my MA is in international environmental policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. When not working I may be found hiking and playing with my dogs, playing ice hockey, reading, or exploring. I live and work in Winooski, Vermont.