Collection: Substrate - Michelle McMahan

The word substrate is formed from the Latin prefix sub, which means “an underlying position,” plus the word stratu, which, in geology, means “each of the sedimentary layers of the earth.” In philosophy, substrate refers to that which forms the essential part of being; that is, the foundation on which a person’s essence and attributes rest.

We, as human subjects—with all our intentional actions, transcendence, and accidents—inseparably establish our being within a substrate. Our lives are an inevitable extension and expression of it.

These works of art are deeply personal, an exploration of the substrates on which we ground our lives, including my own.

Sorrow, which always comes, tests the resilience of our substrates. If there is a foundation of true hope, then, as author John O’Donahue stated, “beauty issues from the depths.” Hope fills the patient and searching spirit, which is indispensable if sorrow is to bring forth beauty rather than despair. 

For this reason, this body of work conveys sorrow . . . and the presence of hope.