Steph Mantis

Physis is a Greek term woven through theology, philosophy, and science, representing the primal growth force of nature. It is often translated into English as simply “nature.” The term stands in opposition to nomos meaning “law” or “custom.” These contrasting terms call forth a debate on which elements of human existence are natural and which are due to social convention.

Of physis, Plato remarked, “Because those who use the term [physis] mean to say that nature is the first creative power; but if the soul turns out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature.”

With this body of work, Mantis presents never-before-seen imagery of gemstones captured using innovative photomicroscopy techniques. From these found compositions, subjects seem “to grow or appear” in unique ways, exercising the viewer's imagination and providing an opportunity for self-reflection at a deeper level.

But what are we reflecting? Do we find ourselves in the chaos? The abstract? In the ideas we name? Or are we more than what we see and feel and know? Physis suggests we are.