Osseous Stirrings

(Os.se.ous | consisting of or turned into bone)


It is no secret that the earth is languishing under humanity. Our recent human history is definitively characterized by our dependence on burning fossil fuels and harvesting vast amounts of resources from the earth – often in dramatic ways that result in the oppression of people and ecological destruction alike.

What difference does this make to faith communities? How does this reality inform our understanding of the sacred and mystical texts that speak to our origins – the stories that shape how we see both ourselves and the earth in which we breathe, move, and have our being?

Bone of bone, dust of dust, cries coming from blood-soaked soil – these are images coming from the second creation narrative in Genesis, the origin narrative that informs the Judeo-Christian tradition. Often overlooked is the fact that the earth is a character in the story, one that is vital and anything but silent. This tale of the cosmos’ birth, ecological beginnings and the dawn of humanity, is one of relationality, responsibility, and connectedness upset by power plays filled with violence.

Long after Genesis’ story concerning bone, dust, and clamoring voices, another such story is told in Ezekiel. Amid a valley of lifelessness, dry dust and bone, Ezekiel is told to speak a prophetic word of life into the hopelessness. There is a rattling, a wind, and ghostlike happening in this mystical telling – a promise of life eclipsing death.

These photographs were made in light of these narratives – those of ancient texts and those of our communities and earth suffering from a changing climate. They are images of ecological lament and fragile vitality. Quiet, expressive, and compelling, they evoke the earth’s languish and longing. In drifting obscurity, the bones of a planet in peril call for transformation. On floating panes of glass they appear as apparitions, suspended over light. Translucent dark traces, they are haunting and glassy, yet filled with stirrings of life. Together they invite an earth-formed perspective on narrative and justice in the age of climate crisis.


Emilie Bouvier


Apparitions 1-6

Liquid emulsion on glass