Jim Toia, an artist who collaborates with nature, is enamored with the top layer of soil composing the desert crust of the SouthWestern desert, an amalgam of organisms weaving together to form a microcosm crucial to the stability of the desert environment and its inhabitants.
Recent over-visitation and encroachment is undermining the desert’s structural integrity by destroying this delicate material. The desert crust, or cryptobiotic soil, is a layer of organic life forms including moss, lichen, bacteria, algae & fungi that combine to cover large tracts of the desert along with other organic compounds creating a thin crust that deters erosion, provides cover and encourages other life forms to take foothold.
While visiting Joshua Tree, Toia was enchanted by this symbiotic and complex arrangement and set to work capturing highly magnified images of the crust. The works in the Boxo studio comprise prints made from these images as well as prototypes Toia and his collaborator, architect Joe Biondo, have designed. These hexagonal panels, incorporating the same imagery, have been designed as an educational platform for desert visitors centers. Centers will have the opportunity to combine the panels to form environments as staging areas that are accompanied by educational signage to inform visitors of the pristine ecology of the area and instruct them regarding how to avoid damaging this delicate and vital desert life form.
Jim Toia seeks to convey the absolute brilliance of circumstance and contingency. When successful, the viewer becomes aware of the fragility of the moment, realizes the miracle of our predicament, and bends to the fascination of the moment. He makes work around the world when possible, but his primary and secondary studios are in Northwestern New Jersey and Key West, Florida, respectfully. In Key West he spends time peering into the straights of Florida searching out life below. He is represented by the Kim Foster Gallery in Chelsea, NY (kimfostergallery.com). Toia received his BA from Bard College and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe and the Far East. The many collections that own his work include the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ, The NJ State Museum, the AT&T Collection, and the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Hunterdon Museum of Art and Stamford University to name a few. He is the recipient of a 2000 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship and a Geraldine Dodge Foundation Grant.