By Natalia Chilcote
Roxbury, MA – The first installment of Inner Sanctum Studio’s Salon series on March 28 presented the exhibit, “The Transformative Art of Martin Bridge.” A dedicated mycologist, painter and theater instructor, Bridge’s life has been shaped by and remains rooted in visceral experiences of and participation in the natural world. A passion for the ancient networks that form the basis for Earth’s soil systems continuously inform his art and inspires him to explore new avenues in his work.
At the heart of his art is a personal transformation that he underwent years ago while exploring the forest with friends. A chance encounter with the root systems in the ground led him into a deeper interest in mycelial colonies and their roles in aggregating nutrients and the speed of plant decomposition within terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
The writings of famous mycologist and naturalist, Paul Stamets, in addition, have honed Bridges’s artistic focus and manifested themselves in his paintings. Trametes versicolor, for example, is an up-close depiction of a commonly known mushroom species. Bridge uses dark, deep colors to draw the viewer into the image. Bursting out from the center of the canvas, Trametes versicolor is a universe onto itself, holding in its layers a key to further understanding of our surrounding environment.
The use of naturally occurring chemicals within rituals and healing ceremonies theme his work. Alternatives to modern medicine, the use of psychedelic compounds for personal growth and the human quest for the Transcendent also abound. Bridge mirrors these reflections in his depiction of historically significant individuals, such as shamans and environmental advocates, as well as through a cosmic-like representation of animals in their natural state.
One particular painting shows a howling wolf’s translucent body glowing from the inside out, the beads that bind it to this universe stretching beyond its body into the distant night sky. Martin’s imaginative work is thus a call to our own inner transformation and exploration of our role in this planet’s future. His playful, hopeful pieces are meant to inspire the viewer into action, starting from a deeper personal interest in who we want to be in the here and now.
(Inner Sanctum Studio is located at 1 Zeigler St, Roxbury, Mass. Further information on Martin Bridge’s art and environmental interests can be found at bridge.ritualarts.org.)