A New Empathetic Lens: Virginia Lee Montgomery by Martha Tuttle

Martha Tuttle, BOMB Magazine, November 16, 2020

Earlier this year, Virginia Lee Montgomery and I had a long phone conversation about radical empathy and interspecies tenderness. Although our conversation meandered through philosophy, science, and our experiences of the pandemic, we kept coming back to how an artwork can generate and encourage empathy: “How can we feel with?” and “How can we facilitate care?” I see these questions as the foundation behind Virginia’s practice, as well as being crucial questions for this ecological and political moment. Through accepting a panpsychic universe as a given—the idea that all beings, things, and objects have consciousness—her work allows an inclusive respect and intimacy with everything from the subjects she engages with (a hurricane, a moth) to the tools she uses (a DSLR camera, a Dewalt drill). Our interview emerged from wanting to give these questions, and how Virginia expresses them in her work, space for expansion and dialogue. 

—Martha Tuttle