Lichen

jan beekman painting nature - Lichen series

The still explosions on the rocks,
The lichens, grow
By spreading, gray, concentric shocks.
They have arranged
To meet the rings around the moon, although
Within our memories they have not changed . . .

Excerpt from Elizabeth Bishop,

“The Shampoo,” A Cold Spring, 1955

the never-ending cycle of life, death, and rebirth...

Lichen growing on tree trunks is a recurrent subject in Beekman’s paintings, suggesting various narratives. By helping to retain water, lichen is beneficial to soil stabilization. However, it also absorbs pollutants, and is thus a useful “bio-monitor” of air quality. Lichen may therefore remind us of our role as stewards of the natural elements we depend on for survival. Additionally, lichen decays, curls and breaks apart as it dries out, but comes to life again when it rains. By evoking the never-ending cycle of life, death, and rebirth, Beekman’s paintings awaken us to the awesome in nature – to the intimate Sublime.

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