entanglements

by magdalena a. nilges
magdalena a. nilges, entanglements, digital illustration, 2020.

Entanglements is a magical realism portrayal of anthropomorphic creatures built of mycelium and the fruiting bodies of fungi. It is inspired by the role of the mycorrhizal network in forests, which acts as a web between trees to provide nutrients as well as information, therefore supporting multiple species and building an architecture for a successful ecosystem. Donna Haraway captures this idea, and its challenge to capitalism’s Darwinian justifications, with the term “sym-poiesis” — organisms building worlds through making together.

The lessons of “sym-poiesis” resonate with current events, when issues such as the willful denial of systematic racism for economic benefit are being magnified by the pandemic. By valuing an arbitrary few over others, our communities are weakened. The ecology of the forest illustrates an alternative — strength depending on multiple worlds interconnecting, where beings are entangled together in fluctuations of growth and decay, revealing to us ways to maintain resilience when a world values economic growth over bodies.

Magdalena A. Nilges was originally born in Illinois, and moved out West to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a minor in Graphic Design at Laguna College of Art and Design in California. After exploring the design field professionally, they proceeded to earn a Master of Design at University of Washington. There they researched the conflicts between designers and the ecology, focusing their thesis on alternate ways to understand non-human timescales through designed objects. They currently work in Seattle as a graphic designer for an engineering company, while in their personal work they continue to explore design research and studio painting practices.