Marie Brennan
I grew up in Stockton, California, where I was imprinted by the living world of that place and time–from valley oaks that had flourished long before European contact to the “invasive” arundo and bullfrogs of de-watered rivers in ecological freefall. Summers spent in Mount Shasta extended this love of the valley floor to the mountains that surround my now permanent home in western Tehama County.

In 2012 my husband and I founded the Elder Creek ​Oak Woodland Preserve there. Our path towards subsistence living has led us to shepherding a small flock of sheep with our talented border collie​,​ while we ​work to help the land’s natural healing processes. We also ​​advocate for protecting wild and semi-wild lands from extraction and degradation, and for the restoration of oak woodlands.​ I’m currently splitting my time between there and Oakland, where I’m raising my two lovely teenage children and continuing to tattoo at Diving Swallow Tattoo.

Like indigenous writer Jack D. Forbes, I believe that your religion is how you live your life. In this epoch now ​being ​called the Anthropocene, in which human activities have spawned the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, I have found it essential to be doing work for the land. And I am blessed to be able to support that work and my family with tattooing and sales of my artwork.

From an early age I have loved classical representational art, but public taste and my life did not allow for artistic exploration in this tradition until now. As this path unfolds for me, I find meaning in the atelier tradition’s commitment to direct observation from life, parallel to the detailed observation of life required for our land restoration work. Distilling this observation into art is a joy I hope to share with others whose love of the Sacred comes in some of the same forms as mine. I feel that art is restoration of a different kind–I hope that mine provides that for you as we navigate the healing of our world.

Thank you so much for taking the time to learn about my work!