Renate Aller – COMMENSALISM @ Chiaroscuro Gallery



reception September 15th, 5-7 pm

exhibition on view September 15th – October 28th 2023



COMMENSALISM is a relationship between organisms of different species in which one derives some benefit while the other is unaffected nor harmed. 

Humans benefit from nature, and we should not harm it in return. 

We are part of nature, made stronger by our interconnectedness. Echoing the forms of the landscape, I pair an image of the human body to mirror our presence.

Another way to look at it is the observation that we are hosts to microorganisms who are such a large part of us that we cannot define ourselves as being a separate entity.

Ancient Wisdom of the Juniper Trees 

Juniper Tree #386

Juniper Tree #386 ink on wood veneer

Juniper Tree #377  ink on wood veneer

Juniper Tree #377 ink on wood veneer

“This desert is serenading me every day and every hour in a different form.  The hard storms with the bashing water down pours changing into a soft rain, moistening the dry desert air opening my nostrils to the potent but gentle scents of the sage bushes and juniper trees. I inhale deeply and don’t want this moment to pass, a smell that cannot be bottled or kept by merely picking a branch. It is only available in the moist air and thereafter in my memory.

This high valley is surrounded by hills and beyond those high snow-covered mountains which collect the moisture and allow tree vegetation to cling to its side, one of the oldest living species of tree.

The vegetation is far from hesitant, though short and wind beaten, protecting the clay-like earth by spreading her curved branches with her tiny but hardy leaves. In reciprocity, the earth nourishes the plants with minerals.

These old trees emulate old wise people whose graceful appearance enhances with age, their shapes bent by harsh winds, hugging the landscape in their elegance.

Walking through the juniper groves in the Nevada desert with my boots brushing against the sage, I feel welcomed. My camera becomes the extension of my eyes and I don’t care about the outcome of these photos. My presence in these groves, an experience that has its value in the very moment. I understand the meaning of community, the strength of the interconnectedness of nature – and as we are a part of this nature it feels good to be welcomed and not feel like an intruder.

I am promising to become a keeper of their memories.”

As a child I found solace in gently touching the texture of rocks, lichen and mosses. I felt that they were listening to me and kept my thoughts as secrets between their little crevasses.

Plants energetic healing powers and our responsibilities to treasure their surroundings, the spaces they occupy and share with us humans as we are only brief visitors in their world are still main concerns in my life and work.

The juniper trees are presented with pigment ink on ash wood veneer in the spirit of reciprocity. 

We may use the wood to honor the tree it comes from. 

I printed on ash veneer to honor the ash tree of which many are dying these days. By bringing both trees together into one sculptural piece I am wrapping the ash tree with the “resilience” of the juniper tree’s spirit.

Juniper trees’ sap antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-viral properties do not only keep the trees from rotting, but they also have served us for as long as we can trace back with their healing abilities . They are likely the most resilient trees we know. 

Juniper Trees # 315 and #353 ink on wood veneer

558 Canyon Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501





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