Roots: Nature Within

Roots: Nature Within

“Nature Within” explores the nature within everyday objects we encounter, in and around campus—our home. For many of us, it is a new environment. As a first year student at Duke, I created these shots with questions in mind of what it means to establish roots in an unfamiliar place. What is my replanted identity here? What am I made of? Where can I say I (really) come from? How do I navigate a foreign terrain as a non-Durhamite? In addition, what does it mean to think critically about this university’s history?

In the compositions of “Nature Within,” each central object is framed within its origin or abstracted essence. The “n” in the titles between the object and its origin can take the meaning of both “in” or “and,” evoking its identity in its environment both as its derivative and its companion. 

I hope to understand our essence and how we come to function through our interactions of familiar objects of “Nature Within,” from the warm mug of coffee to the beans that made it, from a marble wall of Carr Building to the bust of Benjamin N. Duke, from the cotton of Duke Campus Farm to a “white-collared” shirt made of cotton, from the honey we consume to the flowers that bees need to make it, from the books within our libraries to the trees that provide pages and foundation, from the lamp that guides the night to the ever-changing sky, and from flowers rising from cracked concrete of ninth street as symbollic of Durham’s troubled growth.

I hope that these images can tell stories behind what the material chooses to make. By arousing thoughts about the process of production, I hope to also highlight our nature within and the potential to inspire and create as we interact with these subjects.

words and images by grace chun