Eric Beltz

Region: Pacific Coast


City / State: Santa Barbara, CA

I found something special on the side of the freeway. It was a plant. Datura wrightii. I had been reading about species related to this plant because of their visionary properties. At the time, I was trying to understand why my culture had rejected the use of such plants while others around the globe had embraced it. Discovering this plant growing near me closed the gap between the distant past, the faraway, and my experience here and now. It was a liberating moment. It also awakened me to the waste spaces within a city that offer refuge for weedy plants, many of which have poisonous, medicinal, or psychedelic properties. Since then, I have become fixated on lost knowledge, forgotten histories, mixed-up stories, fringe characters, taboo symbolism, and other cultural elements that persist in spite of being ignored or maligned. Working in graphite connects me to a lineage that is also rooted in the unexalted. In these hidden things, there is a secret thrill that feels both private and universal.