In 2022, I begin an exploration of the vulnerable ecologies of North America. Through a handful of art and science residencies, collaborations with ecologists and ecology students, and walks with human stewards of fragile habitats, a series of large scale watercolor paintings emerge which tell stories of the intricate fabric of place. The paintings depict the earth as luminous, teeming, and interdependent. They speak of a community that reaches far beyond the end of our sidewalks, includes non-human bodies and a wider-than-human intelligence. The research phase of each painting invites youth living locally to enter their landscape and learn alongside me. Their curiosity and unique ways of sensing guide the narrative of the image.
I am currently seeking funding for this project. Reproductions of each painting will be donated to local municipal spaces where children congregate (libraries, schools), and to the youth, ecologists and stewards who helped to inform the narrative and composition.
Funding also supports residency fees, offsets the fossil-fuel costs of travel (I drive a Prius) compensates the working naturalists for their time assisting my research, and pays an artist-homesteader (that's me!) a living wage.
Pilot in New Orleans
The greater New Orleans area is currently involved in several wetland remediation projects. The human communities there will depend upon these projects success at restoring land mass to the Mississippi delta. Without the natural filtering, sponging, and buffering capacity of the marshes, they are dangerously vulnerable to growing storms.
The 4-H Youth Wetlands Program have invited me to their summer workshops and camps to learn alongside their youth ambassadors in the salt marsh, this coming August.
I have also been graciously invited to work and learn alongside the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Resilience, as they tend and reintroduce Cypress saplings to the bayou.
With funding, I will be able to offer free field drawing and botany classes in the salt marsh to students and the wider community, as I complete studies for the final painting. I will also be able to afford extended trips to NOLA from my home in Southern Appalachia to shadow and support the stewards of these coastal wetlands, learning the place through the eyes of those who call it home.
With the help of so many working so intimately with the vibrant delta wetlands, I hope to conceive of a painting that tells the story of that place, that is relevant (and can be claimed by) its human residents, while giving visibility and voice to its non-human citizens. With funding, I would like to offer reproductions and permanent installations of the painting back to the communities it can best serve. It should be an image that presents solutions for healing, and for hope, and an invitation into deeper belonging and accountability to the living landscape.
Painting for Cape Cod
Cape Cod is home to ancient dune and bog ecosystems, originating as long as 18,000 years ago at the end of the last glacial period. They are home to many healthy interspecies relationships which have been lost elsewhere due to human development. We are fortunate to be able to witness and learn from these places as they are still unfragmented and relatively unpolluted, under the protection of the National Park Service.
In September, I will embark on another research trip, this time to learn about the ancient dunelands and glacial bogs of Cape Cod, on the Atlantic seaboard of Northeastern North America.
I was awarded a two week residency in a remote and historic dune shack from the Peaked Hill Trust, to support my work with an immersive experience among the dunes.
With funding, I will be able to pay the upkeep fees for the shack, and hire working coastal geologists and ecologists to consult on the painting. I have also reached out to local k-12 teachers and am currently exploring ways to include their students in my learning/research process.
As with the program in New Orleans, I plan to return to Cape Cod with the finished painting, and present it, hopefully with the ambassadorship of local school children, to teach the resident communities ways to notice, engage, and steward their home landscape.
Waterways of Southern Appalachia
My last painting in this series will plunge
into the water column and riparian forests who grow around the rivers of the 480 million year old Appalachian mountains.
I'm currently working with Gary Peeples of the Asheville Fish and Wildlife Service to connect to ecologists working on behalf of our Southern Appalachian rivers.
From the restoration of endemic freshwater mussel populations, to the "Shade your Stream" campaign which encourages the plantings along river banks to hold soil and keep silt out of the water column, from the tracking of native plant population gains and losses, to the prevention and cleanup of pollution, there are many grassroots, nonprofit, and government sponsored efforts to learn better stewardship practices along our rivers.
Funding will enable me to spend long days in waders, shadowing the people who know our Appalachian mountain waters best, and to support their programs with labor in the field, as well as public education through my artwork.
I pledge to connect to my local public and private schools and create programming such as nature journaling, natural inks, and plant pressing, to include students in the process of researching and creating this painting about our shared watershed.