I am delighted to be a 2015 Artist-in-Residence at the Teton ArtLab in Jackson, Wyoming, where I will continue my research-driven work focused on America’s regional landscape ecology. Where as my recent Wild West at BDGA project focused on the contiguous United States, the Teton Artlab Residency, will focus the regional lens on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
My proposed Teton ArtLab project is to create a series of prints that map the pressures on Yellowstone’s ecological landscape and its natural resources. I am particularly interested in exploring the relationship between environmental tourism and conservation. My intention is to highlight environmental management, policy and design practices that promote ecological awareness and a greater sense of environmental stewardship while balancing the conflicting needs of man and nature.
I envision my proposed maps to be a creative mix of objective data and “radical cartography” inspired subjectivity, to represent the conflicting demands inherent in our management of natural systems. Observation-based research and ESRI-complied spatial data will be coupled with evocative representation to highlight ecological conditions and environmental management practice as they play out in the landscape.
I’m also thrilled by the promise of the Teton ArtLab Residency opportunity: new professional relationships, immersion into the Jackson creative community, and the chance to share my work with the greater community through both an exhibition and artist talk. Most of all, I’m inspired by the opportunity to continue my creative work of making ecological issues culturally relevant to the general public by means of accessible research-based art and design.
I welcome like-minded Jackson creative folk and those working with local environmental issues to reach out.
This project page will be updated periodically, but I welcome folks to follow the project on instagram for more frequent updates including process work, field observations and other developments.
Teton ArtLab Base Map
Tree Fighter Installation
Unsolicited Installation Proposal for Tree Fighters Awareness Campaign. It's really inspiring to see brass tacks grassroots response to ecological crisis. Although its critical to focus attention on environmental problems, its equally important to focus on solutions. Checkout Tree Fighters and their efforts to fight the whitebark pine beetle here.
Agency Study Drawing
Mixed-media study sketch inspred by my effort to untangle the federal land management of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Mixed Media Design Development Drawings
Outreach postcards to welcome community and collect subjective data and initial impressions.
Throughout 2014 I have been participating in the Trifecta Editions Hibernaculum Artist Residency. This project continues my ongoing exploration of alternative approaches to communicating past, present and future North American landscape issues. Driven by the Great Outdoors experience, the ultimate goal of the project is to promote a shared environmental awareness and heightened cultural value of ecology through the creation of accessible art and design.
As the 2014 Hibernaculum artist-in-residence I'm creating several modest site-specific landscape installations on Trifecta Editions’ 30-acre site outside of Ticonderoga, NY. These installations and the research behind their design and construction are the basis for a collaborative silkscreen print series with Trifecta Editions. The year-long project will conclude with an interdisciplinary exhibition featuring a variety work including the print series, multi-media drawings and select landscape installations adapted to the gallery environment. In support of the educational intent, the vision for the Hibernaculum exhibition is an immersive installation celebrating collaborative art & design inspired by nature and a deeper understanding of ecology. The exhibition is scheduled for Spring 2015 at the Innovation & Design Building in Boston.
About Trifecta Editions
Trifecta Editions is a growing print collective based in Boston and Cambridge. They work with artists from all disciplines to create limited edition screen prints and art objects. Their unique editions are all hand printed and made with a strong focus on quality and craftsmanship. They take pride in a business model that benefits, supports and promotes emerging artists and fosters a new generation of art collectors.
About Trifecta Editions Hibernaculum Residency
Trifecta Editions Hibernaculum Residency is a free-form artist retreat at Eagle Lake in Ticonderoga, NY. Each year, Trifecta selects one artist to unplug, unwind and create a project and print series based on their time in the Hibernaculum. With 30 acres of forested land bordering on the Pharaoh Wilderness and frontage on Eagle Lake, the Hibernaculum Residency provides the perfect setting for artists to disconnect and get inspired. The residency program provides emerging artists with opportunities often reserved for more established artists. Each participant receives room, board and a small stipend.
Read more about the Trifecta Editions residency here.
Timber hibernaculum installation: spray paint and mixed deciduous wood (re-stacked after collapse). Target focuses attention to an otherwise unremarkable woodland sight, a stack of wood. Wood pile painted to highlight its function as hibernaculum opportunity for solitary bees, ladybirds, and lacewings, all of which can use this structure to lay eggs or seek winter shelter.
Site Marker No. 4
Site-specific marker highlights a geological process in action: a tree’s ability to hold a mountain in place. This piece is one of six light-touch landscape installations and a path and wayfinding system that links points of ecological interest on the 30-acre property.
Work-in-process; development of Snack Stand facade form and graphic design approach with John Cronin and Jared Laucks. Final design to be installed on Hibernaculum Trail at Eagle Lake in Ticonderoga NY and the nature trail at the L.C. Bates Museum of Natural History at Good Will-Hinckly in Hinckly, ME. Final graphic design to be developed into hand-crafted silkscreened wood sign with Trifecta Editions.
Figure Four: Winter Nurse Log
Screen print collaboration with Trifecta Editions. Five-color print measures 9″ by 12″ and is printed in 250 gsm Canson Editions gray paper. Available at trifectaeditions.com
Split Log Timber Target, No. 4
Work-in-progress; silkscreen print with Trifecta Editions.
Work-in-process; design development of series of 8X8' Forest Flags intended to draw attention to woodland ecology. Clockwise from top left corner; Hemlock's Last Stand, Wetland Territory, Trifecta Editions Hibernaculum, Waterfowl Habitat.
Wild West at BDGA
Wild West at BDGA is a multi-disciplinary art and design installation focused on America’s conflicted relationship with its landscape and natural resources. The installation sets aside the popular narrative of inflated romance and violence associated with young America’s western frontier experience for a narrative that instead positions the "Wild West" in terms of regional landscape ecology.
There are troubling parallels to the Old West, however. The ecological Wild West of today, like that of yesteryear’s Wild Wild West, is marred by violence, conquest, and unchecked exploitation. The critical difference is that the stakes are exponentially higher and operate on a regional scale with both local and global environmental impact.
The installation’s research-based work includes maps, drawings, prints and a variety of cross-disciplinary collaborations* to illustrate species extinction, resource scarcity, chronic landscape disturbances, and the destruction of critical ecological systems within the contiguous United States. Specifically, the work considers current environmental issues such as water rights, fracking, mega-droughts, industrial livestock agriculture, road ecology, and more.
This self-financed research project was primarily funded by merchandising the research effort with a series of collaborative, topical, low-priced prints, postcards, and branded clothing collaboration with Bodega. Select merchandise collaborations are featured here.
Bodega's high-traffic retail location was selected in support of ongoing professional efforts to introduce pressing landscape ecology issues to new audiences in unlikely settings. The exhibition was in many ways an interior environmental design project integrated into Bodega's retail concept store. View photography of the in-store installation here.
Read more about the project including an interview about the project's theory, process and practice at Bodega blog. View the 3-month project in the context of a 15 second video here.
Wild West at BDGA will be on display from May 17th to August 31, 2014 at Boston's Bodega store located at 6 Clearway Street, Boston, MA, 02115.
Digital drawing, 29X29" Giclée print, #100 Canson cotton photographique rag paper
Updated re-presentation of American conservationist, taxidermist, and author William Hornaday’s iconic American Bison Extermination Map published in 1889 by the Smithsonian Institute. This thematic three-color map Illustrates areas of population die-off and systematic extermination via species distribution up to 1889. Map also includes years of local extermination and current distribution of the American bison as of 2003.
Hornaday’s cartography, writing and conservation advocacy is credited with preserving the American bison from extinction.
Source:Hornaday, William Temple. The Extermination of the American Buffalo. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2002. Print.; Isenberg, Andrew C. The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Print.
Ecological Distress Map: Old Growth Forest, Then & Now
Digital drawing. 32X32" Giclée print on 120# Canson cotton etching rag paper.
The United States Map Code, Title 5, U.S.C., Chapter 10. Respect for map: No disrespect should be shown to the map of the United States of America; the map should never be displayed with the Great Lakes down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life, property or landscape.
Ecological Distress Map: Mega Drought America
Digital drawing. 32X32" Giclée print on 120# Canson cotton etching rag paper.
Data source: April 2014 drought intensity data, Mathew Rosencrans, CPC/NCEP/NWS/NOAA. http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/
Ecological Distress Map: Hydoscape
Digital drawing, 32X32" Giclée print, 120# Canson cotton etching rag paper
Declining water quantity and quality will be America’s insidious environmental challenge in the 21st century. The nation’s population and agriculture depend on it. The country’s stressed hydroscape presents unprecedented ecological, financial and political conflicts. The great rivers of the West have all been dammed, diverted and dirtied and have created a number of ecological distress points throughout the country’s macro-scale hydrological system. The Midwest faces an even more pressing issue as the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies water to 28% of the nation’s agricultural land is predicted to be depleted by the end of this century.
Source: Ashworth, William. Ogallala Blue: Water and Life of the Great Plains. Woodstock, Vermont: Countryman Press, 2007. Print.; Reisner, Marc. Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1993. Print.
Detail of Ecological Distress Map: Hydroscape
Digital drawing, 32X32" Giclée print, 120# Canson cotton etching rag paper
Detail of Ecological Distress Map: Frackscape
Digital drawing, 32X32" Giclée print, 120# Canson cotton etching rag paper
Frackscape map detail featuring gas shale basins (blue), current gas shale plays (red), proposed plays (gold) and fracidents (poison skulls). National Parks within shale basins overlaid in green. Terrifying in detail.
An estimated one million American gas and oil wells have been “fracked” in the last 70 years. The latest, highly controversial, shale-gas fracking technology relies on millions of gallons of high-pressure water and a cocktail of unregulated chemicals (acids, detergents and poisons) for each frack well. The ecological damage from fracking is terrifying; over time fracked wells often fail and leak, consequently contaminating both air and groundwater. Beyond chemical blooms in local aquifers, the ecological impact includes endangering aquatic habitat and the earth's climate with methane gas byproduct.
Source: Brantley, Susuan. “The Facts on Fracking.” The New York Times. March 13, 2013. Online, Accessed March 28, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/14/opinion/global/the-facts-on-fracking.htm; Earth Justice. Interactive Fracking Map. Online, earthjustice.org/features/campaigns/fracking-across-the-united-states. Accessed April 13, 2014.; U.S. Energy Information Administration. “Energy in Brief: What is shale gas and why is it important?” December, 5, 2012. Online, www.eia.gov/energy_in_brief/article/about_shale_gas.cfm Accessed April 2, 2014.
Detail of Ecological Distress Map: Dirty Thirties
Digital drawing, 32X32" Giclée print, 120# Canson cotton etching rag paper
Detail of historic ecological distress map showing extent of Dust Bowl's ecological disaster and consequent mass migration routes to the west coast
See photography of maps in context of in-store installation here.
I participated in the Boston Fun-A-Day 2014 project by developing 31 one-page landscape installation proposals during the month of January, 2014. The work is a freewheeling exploration of the New England landscape and our cultural love affair with the region's “great outdoors."
Beyond the 31 drawings, which will be exhibited in a group show this Winter, the ultimate goal is a design-build project. One or more of the proposed landscape installations will be constructed in the field this summer as part of my participation in Trifecta Edition's Hibernaculum Artist Residency Program.
I encourage folks to follow the continuation of this project on my tumblr and instagram or this ol’ fashioned website.
Fun-A-Day Boston 2014 Art Show & Reception Hosted by Voltage Coffee & Art Opening Reception February 21st, 7-9pm Show runs February 17th through April 5th
Jan 1: Stacked Erratic Tour
Proposal: Self-guided glacial feature tour. Includes kettle pond, eskers, boulder field and the erratic stack. Designed experience as a celebration of glacial activity including the acceptance of the Anthropocene epoch.
Jan 2: Advertising Barn for Vermont Tourism Board
Proposal: In the tradition of the North American advertising barn, celebrate the quiet solitude of a wifi “dead zone” in the mountainous back roads of Vermont, the Green Mountain State.
Photoshop Source: Advertising Barns, Vanishing American Landmarks, by William G. Simmonds
Jan 3: Roadside Stone Jump Maze
Proposal: Roadside jump maze of granite boulders on hillside. Rules: Keep off the grass and stay on the rocks. First one to get to the top wins shotgun seat and control of iphone mix.
Jan 4: Secret Glow-in-the-Dark Canoe Tour
Proposal: Stones painted with clear glow-in-the-dark paint and arranged underwater in the form of directional arrows. Stone arrows blend into shallow lake bottom during day light hours and only reveal “hidden” path after sunset. Arrows guide canoe tour to clandestine destination and moonless adventure of Eagle Lake…[Cue Loon]
Jan 5: Wood Pile Target
Proposal: 30-foot target supergraphic (spray paint cut ends of timber log stack) for Timber Country awareness campaign.
Jan 6: Cellar Hole Memorial
Proposal: Commemorate the nearly forgotten rural homestead of yesteryear with rough-hewn timbers arranged to spell out “1811,” the year the home was built. Wood is burnt for preservation and contrast and laid in bottom of existing hand-built stone cellar hole. Winter midnight viewings encouraged.
Support: I'm actively looking for old cellar holes within New England that are available for land art installations. Leads welcome.
Jan 7: Cellar Hole Fun
Proposal: A cellar hole for the kids, the vernacular of play, the foundation of fun.. Just add plastic “fun balls” to desired depth (minimum of 30 inches) to structurally sound stone foundation and make architectural history relevant to the kids.
Jan 8: Turkey Trail Markers
Proposal: Wayfinding design for woodland path network at Eagle Lake, NY. Coded trail markers consist of maple log, cordage and dyed turkey tail feathers.
Jan 9: Stone Wall Beacon
Proposal: Stone wall beacon. Loose “tossed” stonewall constructed over internal steel cage which houses light source. The stonewalls day time shadows are transformed into night time highlights.
Jan 10: Razzle Dazzle Ships
Proposal: Pair of Razzle Dazzle ships for clandestine canoe tour on Eagle Lake. Ships painted in contrasting black and white striped geometry to provide visual "cover" during secret glow-in-the-dark canoe tour (See Proposal 4). Razzle Dazzle smock (as worn by model), required during rutting reason.
Proposal*: Veterans' Day wood pile contest as community building event for Historic Harrisville in Harrisville, NH..
Jan 12: Woodland Protector
Proposal: Woodland protector for Warden Woods. New England Woodland spirit statue to ward off invasive species including but not limited to Fallopia japonica, Berberis thunbergii, and the dreaded Celastrus orbiculatus.
Jan 13: Bespoke Logs
Proposal: Bespoke logs
Jan 14: Interpretive Watershed Markers
Proposal*: Increase local watershed awareness relative to regional hydrologic system. Interpretive “signs” communicate stream orders within the Merrimac River Watershed. Each stream order is represented with one granite chevron (third-order stream represented in illustration). Chevrons are engraved with the distance from headwaters as well as distance to the Atlantic Ocean.
*Unsolicited proposal for Harris Center, Hancock, NH
Jan 15 Proposal: Take a Long Walk
Proposal: Take a long walk in Ticonderoga to the naturally formed glacial boulder that looks like a human head. Take a canteen and bug juice.
Jan 16: Glow-in-the-Dark Striped Road Cut
Proposal: Engage motorist and celebrate roadside geology on the darkest of lost and lonely highways. Fill the slightly angled drill-hole lines (remains from road cut dynamite operations) with glow-in-the-dark paint for a fresh take on the roadside attraction. Beware of teenagers.
Jan 17: Shade Collection Box
Proposal: A simple reminder of the value of canopy trees, made with a recycled box and paint pen of your choice.
Jan 18: Glacial Place Branding
Proposal: Celebrate the 800-mile journey of a glacial erratic boulder from its origin in Canada’s Hudson Bay Region to its current resting place. Boulder is painted in Hudson’s Bay Company’s iconic four-color striped pattern and trademark coat of arms. Place-branding enters the glacial field.
Jan 19: Conceptualism Cycle Tour Mile Marker
Proposal: Cycle the Monadnock Region’s back roads as you tour the area’s best kept secret; a twelve-mile self-guided conceptual art tour. Maps and Google Tour glasses available at General Store in Harrisville, NH. Helmets strongly recommended.
Jan 20: Nurse Log Field
Proposal: Formalize nature’s “nurse log” phenomenon with this ecological intervention by arranging logs in the form of a Swiss cross within temperate woodland. Jump start the germination field with a bed of moss, leaf litter and hemlock seedings. Weed out unwanted species annually. Practice patience.
Jan 21: Yes
Proposal: Say, Yes. Yes to wetland protection. Yes to road trips. Yes to skinny dips. And yes to “yes” spelled out in coir cursive.
Jan 22: Glacial Gift Pack
Proposal: Celebrate the glacial gifts of the Wiconsinan Ice Age. Dye rope to the color of your fancy and highlight six-pack of glacial boulders with a bit of festive gift-wrapping. Commence rock party.
Jan 23: Wet Meadow Vanes
Proposal: Highlight the dynamics and diversity of the wet meadow. Vertical sticks trace brook within meadow. Sticks are topped with painted arrows, which are inserted into bottles. Arrow swings and points into wind as bottle serves as bearing for stick. This simple weathervane* also serves as desirable bird-perch within regional landscape’s ecological hot spot.
*Based on 18th century American folk art, as reported by Eric Sloane in his 1962 booklet “Diary of an Early American Boy."
Jan 24: Bastille Day Flag
Proposal: Tidy up side-yard of the old Down East back-to-the-lander with the dozen spent VW vans. Provide ladder and seating for grassroots "Etat du Maine, Bastille Day" fireworks night.
Jan 25: Flag for Education
Proposal: Flag ecological points of interest with classic signal flags as part of landscape ecology tour for youth. Nurse stump represented by medical flag and naval signal flags for “N” and “S.” Host low-stress campfire quiz at day’s end.
Jan 26: Undead Landscape
Proposal: Bring Successional landscape back to life with the help of a 19th century zigzagging stonewall . Punctuate wall with a moss-covered boulder and accent form with occasional dab of glow-in-the-dark paint. On special occasion, play spooky soundtrack from wireless speakers.
Source: Successional landscape diagram from Eric Sloane’s 1955 publication, Our Vanishing Landscape, Ballantine Books, NY.
Jan 28: Snack Stand
Proposal: Re-zone abandoned Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) nest as Snack Stand. Stuff sweet fruit in old nest and existing feeding excavations along tree trunk. Wait for creepy crawlies to arrive and then let the snack shacking begin.
Jan 29: LARE Riddle
Proposal: Fill in the blank.
Andrew called, he wants his _____________ back!
Jan 27: Flannel Flâneur
Proposal: Travel program featuring the rural discoveries of the new American Flannel Flâneur. Weekly episodes explore the place and people of rural New England through the lens of its landscape. Volume I crisscrosses Maine timber country and covers a variety of interests from regional woodland ecology to the details of woodpile instruction. Log landings, skidders, paper men, bottle cap clubs, nurse stumps, the growing woodpile art movement and more are captured in this stunning study of the cultural landscape of Maine.
Jan 30: Liberty Snake Pit
Proposal: Up-cycle 19th Century cellar hole to serve as habitat for the benevolent garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) with alternating bands of ground cover and stone. Plant band of trees for light-shade. Stock pit with snakes and provide initial feeding, if necessary. Yes, the Liberty Snake Pit is tread free.
Jan 31: Camp Cone
Proposal: Environmental education in woodland summer camp format. Camper favorites include: bow and arrow construction, poison ivy identification, and seed bombing. Space is unlimited.
Fig 12.8. Models of mosaic sequences. Each area starts 100% dark green and is progressively replaced by a white new-land-type (light green is simply used to identify locations of new land type during the 10% to 50% replacement period). White land type surrounds the landscape. Illustration based on original figure prepared by Kristina Hill.
Forman Watercolor Diagram: Landscape Types and Regions
Fig. 9.10 Six types of landscape based on predominant spatial pattern. (Adapted from Forman (1990b).
Forman Watercolor Diagrams: Moving Patches
Fig. 4.13. Shapes suggesting past origin, present functioning, and future change.
Forman Watercolor Diagram: Habitat Arrangements and Strategic Points
Fig.9.12. habitat interspersion, adjacencies, and convergency points.
A result of interspersing more than two habitats is to produce convergency points ('junctions' or type of 'convert'). Design (a) has one convergency point, while design (d) has one has two. Such locations are of special importance to certain species. Convergency points are important well beyond wildlife habitat. They are often funnels for flows of water, eroded particulates, and mineral nutrients, as well as for moving animals. Thus, they are ideal locations for predators and hunters. Indeed, for the same reason, they are ideal for wildlife-oberserving blinds and platforms (Forman, 2006). Convergence locations are also ideal for ecological-based landscape interventions such as hibernaculum (Borden, 2014).
Forman Watercolor Diagrams: Boundaries and Edges
Fig. 3.13. Eight common boundary surfaces
Forman Watercolor Diagrams: Planning
Fig. 13.3 Spatial patterns produced by three groups of processes. (a) Separate patterns; (b) planned refers to the rea as a whole; (c) unplanned refers to the area as a whole, though some or many places are highly planned and designed. Green area = natural vegetation; white = agriculture; coarse grid = residential; fine grid = commercial.
Forman Watercolor Diagram: Edge as Habitat
Fig 3.12. Wildlife usage and movement relative to boundary curvilinearity. Woodland is pinyon-juniper and grassland is grama-sagebrush. Scattered green dots represent elk (Cervus) and mule deer (Odocoileus), based on track and scat densities. Solid arrows indicate much movement, dashed arrows, intermediate movement, and dotted arrows little movement. P = predator movement (coyote, Canis). Summary patterns based on unpublished data of R. Forman, D. Smith, and S. Collinge from near Taos, New Mexico (USA).
Forman Watercolor Diagrams: Key Processes
Fig. 7.4 Flow rates and stream-bottom particle sizes along river mosaic. Numbers 1 to 8 are sections along the river differentiated by a distinct change or boundary. Dotted line = hillslope. Material entering laterally from a tributary or in subsurface flow also passes through patches and boundaries. Flow rates and particle sizes are represented by large, medium, and small arrows and circles.
Forman Watercolor Diagrams: Wind
Fig. 2.3. Generalized patterns of wind speed and productivity in a field. Relative to average wind speed over forest, thick arrows in field indicate accelerated , and dashed arrows reduced, wind speed. Un-shaded areas of field indicate low plant productivity.
Forman Watercolor Diagrams: Windbreaks and Wind
Fig. 9.1. Flows or movements in an ecosystem cluster and a catena. (a) Flows between a patch and its surroundings in relation to distance and ecosystem or land use type. Amounts of flow indicated by arrows line weights. (b) Flows among five soils in a catena. Adapted from Hole & Campbell (1985) and Woodmansee (1990).
Forman Watercolor Diagrams: Hedgerows as Habitat
Fig. 6.9. Distinctive windbreak patterns around pastures. (a) to (d) Suggestions for the northern Great Plains of North America (Dronen 1988). (e) used successfully in North America in conjunction with Today I Learned (TIL) education movement (Borden 2014). Orientation is determined by wind and snowstorm directions.
Forman Watercolor Diagrams: Downwind
Fig 10.8. Downwind smoke and pollutant deposits related to temperatures above the ground. Adapted from Geiger (1965).
The focus of much of my creative practice is communicating landscape related issues with an imaginative combination of art and design. This approach started with my Not-to-Scale (NTS) maps, which are a creative adaptation of traditional landscape architecture communication tools including maps, plans and parti diagrams. I often employ humor and an evocative combination of old and new media to make the NTS map and its message accessible.
Battle for Boston Harbor
Four hundred years after the arrival of Puritan colonialists, the Boston Harbor Islands are still a battleground for land-use and development conflict. From seasonal hunting grounds to insane asylums to contaminated military installations, this collection of islands offers something to everyone.
Digital Collage, 18“ X 18,” Fall 2010
New England DPM Preference Map
Mixed media: Pen, pencil, acrylic paint, illustrator. Spring 2013
Maine is Cold Map
Collage, Winter 2013
New England Demonym Map
Some times people name places. Other times places name people.
Four-color letterpress print of Canada's Hudson Bay on 110lb Lettra pearl white paper created in collaboration with Kimberly LaFoy and Ryan Habbyshaw of Valor Press. The print measures 5” X 7” and is signed and numbered on back. Limited-edition of 60.
The Boston Harbor Islands, largely ignored by most Bostonians or viewed as a quaint inaccessible archipelago, offer tremendous potential as both a cultural and ecological asset to the greater Boston region. This collection of islands, actually a rare landscape of submerged drumlin landforms, were made part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area in 1996. Unfortunately, only 2 of these 34 islands are accessible by public ferry. Fortunately, you can plan a trip to these islands by visiting here.
Ask a New Englander to describe their rural landscape and stonewalls would likely top the list, perhaps second only to trees. Glaciation produced a crop of stones and industrious New Englanders rearranged them into an estimated 250,000 miles of walls. Although it’s been over 200 years since the height of stonewall building peaked in the early 1800’s, an estimated 100,000 miles of stonewalls still stand as an understated testament to a complex land use history.
Not all stonewalls are created equal. The region’s stonewalls are as varied as the people of New England in their build and intention. Stonewalls range from the hastily tossed farm wall to grand “finished” estate walls. Any landscape-loving Yankee worth his salt can “read” a wall to accurately determine a parcel’s land use history. The proposed field guide presents typical stonewalls in section with a brief description of defining features and how the wall’s form provides clues to a landscape’s history.
Mixed media: pencil, ink, colored pencil, dab of photoshop
This field guide was published in The American Guide in November 2013. Additional field guides published by the American Guide can be found here.
The Tossed Wall is architectural evidence of agriculture. As fields were cleared for tilling, these stonewalls were literally tossed into existence, one stone at a time, at the edge of an agricultural field. The form of a tossed wall is loose and often far wider than tall. The builder’s goal was to dump the stone, stacking it up was unnecessary.
Similar to the Tossed Wall, the Disposal Wall is also a byproduct of agriculture. In some cases the Disposal Wall was initially a Tossed Wall that had been rebuilt in an effort to tidy up the farm. The Disposal Wall is built from two single stack walls, where the resultant void is filed with smaller fieldstones. This type of disposal wall is evidence of a successful agriculture.
The Pasture Wall, also known as a farm wall, was built to contain livestock and is the most common type of stonewall in New England. This wall is characterized by large stones and typically lacks the smaller stones of an agriculture related wall. The wood rails that once made up most of the wall’s height and ensured that livestock stayed put, have long since rotted.
Figure 6: Gentleman's Wall
The Gentleman’s Farm Wall or Estate Wall is neither the direct result of agriculture nor husbandry, but is a statement of values and achievement. This wall communicates pride, order and wealth by means of craftsmanship. The wall’s tight one-over-two construction, consistent batter, and capstone, were of significant expense and beyond the reach of most thrifty New England farmers.
The Whiskey Wall is arguably the most misunderstood and misclassified stonewall typology. There is serious debate as to the exact origin of the name. Some historians claim it is called a Whiskey Wall because it was built under the influence of whiskey. As one can easily imagine, “walling under the influence” lends to poor construction practice and eventually leads to the wall’s failure. Others claim it is called a Whiskey Wall because it was destroyed by drunk hunters, likely trying to flush out an animal from the wall. Both options seem plausible, but only the empty whiskey bottle truly knows.
Sol LeWitt Mountainaires
Wall drawing inspired by Sol LeWitt and distant views of Mount Monadnock from Prospect Hill in Harrisville, NH.
1. Trace crest of favorite mountain in illustrator.
2. Multiply Y value of mountain crest by three for exaggerated mountain profile.
3. Copy exaggerated profile in black marker along top of wall.
4. Offset profile with four color markers to represent atmospheric perspective of distant mountain.
5. Repeat offsets with markers until you run out of wall space.
6. Enjoy the distant views, albeit abstracted.
*Collaboration with CC McGregor
1: a branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of organisms and their environments
2: the totality or pattern of relations between organisms and their environment
3: human ecology
4: environment, climate <the moral ecology>; also : an often delicate or intricate system or complex <the ecology of culture*>
The Massachuset and Wampanoag tribes called the land I grew up in “Nanamooskeagin,” or “land of many beavers.” Sadly, the only castor canadensis I ‘ve seen in my hometown are found on the Abington town seal at the top of property tax bills.
Silkscreen print on 8 X 10" Rives BFK grey paper
Beaver Head Source: Curious Woodcuts of Fanciful and Real Beasts, Gesner, Konrad, ed. New York Dover Publications, Inc. 1973.
The nurse log is a familiar sight in the New England forest if you look for it. The nurse log, essentially a fallen tree, covered with a layer of moss and organic debris, is a natural woodland germination field for native species of shade loving plants including, Tsuga candensis (hemlock), Pinus strobus (white pine), and Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch).
Mixed Media Series: Ink, graphite, colored pencil and carbon transfer on paper, 8.5 x 11”, Winter 2013.
Momma Said Knock You Out
“In Cornwall, Connecticut, and wherever iron was made in the Birkshires, you may still see where burning mounds were: the hardwood is coming back in those hills, except for the chestnut, which reaches about ten feet before it browns and succumbs to the blight of 1904.” (Sloane, 1965)
If you didn’t know better you might believe the chestnut tree is making a comeback. The chestnut blight (caused by infection of Diaporthe parasitica, a fungus imported from Japan on nursery stock) is a cruel organism; just as the chestnut sapling appears to have made its triumphant return and is ready to shoot up to be a mighty tree of yore. It doesn't. The diseased tree remains in a sad arrested state of poor health. It's especially tragic considering the elm recently made up the majority of America’s total tree cover.
Mixed media: Pen, pencil, carbon transfer on paper, 8" X 10". Spring 2011
Ecological Engineers: Castor Canadensis Series
Before the arrival of European trappers, Castor Canadensis, (Beaver) was the premier ecological engineer of Massachusetts. Beavers are ecosystem engineers in that their two principle activities, their construction of dams and their foraging, can profoundly change channel geomorphology and consequently the hydrological characteristics and biotic properties of the landscapes. Beavers create ponds that in effect create habitat for themselves and for other species. Beaver activity produces profound ecological effects and has the power to transform landscapes on a large scale.
Mixed Media Series: Ink, pencil, colored pencil and carbon transfer on paper. Winter 2013 to present.
Beaver Head Source: Curious Woodcuts of Fanciful and Real Beasts, , Konrad, ed. New YorkL Dover Publications, Inc. 1973.
Ecological Engineers: Bison Series
As the keystone species of North America’s Great Plains, Bison bison (buffalo) shaped America’s grassland ecological system for millenniums. Before man re-shaped this vast ecosystem with sprawling networks of housing, agriculture, industry and infrastructure, the American Bison were the crucial player in maintaining this delicately balanced land of grass, fire, and migrating herds. Today, less than 1% of America’s “pre-discovery” prairie grasslands remain and approximately only 4,000 “wild” buffalo remain, down from an estimated 80 million buffalo in the mid-1800’s.
Mixed Media Series: Pencil, ink, carbon transfer on paper, 8" X 10". October 2009 to present, Series of 71 as of May 2014.
Buffalo Head Source: Harper’s Magazine. Publication date and artist unknown.