Emily Husak
Undergraduate, Art + Technology

Paved Paradise
Digital Photography


This piece began with a photo of me, nude from waist up, in front of a “ficus ripen” (vine plant) covered wall. My female form symbolizes Mother Nature overseeing her beautiful natural gardens and habitats symbolized by a natural looking woods/habitat onto the background. I digitally collaged a picture of New York City (that I took from the top of Rockefeller Center), along with pictures of bulldozers, and construction trucks into Mother Nature’s back. These trucks, long with the buildings symbolize humans intruding and destroying natural habitats by turning them into “concrete jungles,” while Mother Nature is seen trying to “hold on to” and protect her habitat. The “darkness” symbolizes the spread of deforestation. The “caution” tape, on her arm is her unheard warning to humans about the unrecoverable destruction taking place. 

When I was a child, there was forest where we played. It was a beautiful, perfectly balanced ecosystem. Then one summer day, when we ran there to play, it was gone. Construction crews had cleared our “paradise” to build apartment buildings. This childhood event was the catalyst for this piece.

The style of my piece was inspired by the artist Cecelia Paredes, who is known for camouflaging herself into her surroundings with the use of body paint. My title, Paved Paradise, is from a line in Joni Mitchell’s song, “Big Yellow Taxi.”  Paved Paradise is meant to bring attention to the damage done to natural habitats, and the problems caused by shrinking biodiversity, when nature is destroyed to allow construction of “concrete jungles.”