Sister Miriam in front of her Straw Bale Home, Genesis Farm, Blairstown, New Jersey, from the series "Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America"
United States (Artist's nationality)
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When 140 acres of farmland were donated to the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, New Jersey, in 1980, the nuns realized they had an opportunity to do something about their growing concern that the Earth was being endangered by environmental degradation.
Under the persuasive leadership of Sister Miriam MacGillis, they built a teaching center and started a community-supported farm. A large solar array was installed and straw bale buildings were constructed, including Sister Miriam’s house.
At the heart of Genesis Farm is a commitment to the teachings of Catholic eco-theologian Thomas Berry. His doctrine, Earth Literacy, is based on the belief that the divine is revealed in the vast biological and cultural diversity of this planet.
Berry was one of the first to propose the idea that the Earth’s environmental crisis stems from a spiritual crisis. He maintains that we suffer from a kind of spiritual autism, that we no longer feel our kinship with other life on this planet. The challenge now is to satisfy our essential human needs without destroying the biodiversity that makes our world so nourishing and rich. Central to the doctrine of Earth Literacy is the conviction that any viable future for the human species is dependent upon the viability of the Earth.
From the portfolio, Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America, 1982–2005
Image: 26.5 × 33.2 cm (10 7/16 × 13 1/8 in.); Paper: 27.9 × 35.5 cm (11 × 14 in.)
Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall
Extended information about this artwork
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