As environmental challenges become more critical, scientists are increasingly thrust into the spotlight to provide vital information to policy makers, community groups, and individuals. The urgency of getting a population of non-scientists to both understand and care about aspects of ecology is real. Ecological awareness is a powerful mechanism for environmental change. To that end, I believe that science communication collaborations between artists/designers and scientists can foster cultural cohesion around ecological issues. An informed public with a shared ecological awareness is in a better position to support long-term stewardship and conservation practice. Moreover, an informed public will become their own empowered advocates and are more likely to play an active role in maintaining their environments, for both themselves and future generations.
As a 2016-2017 Charles Bullard Fellow I will be an embedded artist/designer within the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA. Over the course of the year, I will create a variety of art and design driven science-communication projects with ongoing research initiatives and contribute to the Harvard Forest community through applied creativity, workshops, talks and exhibitions. My Bullard Fellowship program includes at least two distinct research-based creative projects. The first project revolves around the creation of visual work based on the research of the New England Landscape Futures Project. The second project is the development of a sciarts communication project, tentatively titled Project Hemlock, in collaboration with scientists studying the hemlock woolly adelgid. For both projects, I will likely explore my interests in speculative design, creative cartography, and installation-based interpretive trail design.
Beyond the creative collaboration with on-site scientists, the Bullard Fellowship is an opportunity to research the theory and practice of science communication. Central to my proposed Fellowship program is research into past, current, and future trends of public engagement with science, specifically ecology and forestry. This research extends beyond the Harvard Forest community and includes an exploration of new ideas, communication models, and practice modes to move science communication forward. In particular, I am interested in exploring the question, “How can art and design support science communication to foster cultural cohesion around ecological issues and help inform ecology-minded decision making.”
Although my Bullard Fellowship program is proposed as an exploratory arts-science collaboration, it is also an outreach campaign, and ultimately an education initiative. My program employs a model of stewardship that merges aesthetics, environmental awareness, and communication media. The Fellowship includes the creation of the artwork itself, as well as the promotion of the larger ideas behind the work. This project includes integrated outreach and an ongoing shared narrative to illustrate the research issues at hand. A combination of traditional offline media and social media is intended to promote reflection, critical thinking, and creativity among both scientists and artists/designers, as well as the general public. I encourage folks to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for project updates, creative developments, and event announcements.
In support of the Fellowship’s collaborative intent, I welcome studio visits, speaking engagements, and the opportunity to discuss the research with allied practitioners working in the fields of science, education, art and design.
David Buckley Borden, Harvard Forest, 324 North Main Street, Petersham, MA 01366. Office: 978-756-6123 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Charles Bullard Fellowship
The Charles Bullard Fellowship in Forest Research at Harvard University supports advanced research and study by individuals who show promise of making an important contribution, either as scholars or administrators, to forestry and forest-related subjects including biology, earth sciences, economics, politics, administration, philosophy, humanities, the arts, or law. Learn more about the Bullard Fellowship here.
About the Harvard Forest
The Harvard Forest is a department of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) of Harvard University. From a center comprised of 3,750 acres of land, research facilities, and the Fisher Museum, the scientists, students, and collaborators at the Forest explore topics ranging from conservation and environmental change to land-use history and the ways in which physical, biological and human systems interact to change our earth.
Since 1988, the Harvard Forest has been a Long-Term Ecological Research Site, funded by the National Science Foundation to conduct integrated, long-term studies of forest dynamics. Since 2011, the Harvard Forest has been the Northeast Core site for the National Ecological Observatory Network.
Research faculty at the Forest offer courses through the Harvard College Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) and the Freshman Seminar Program. Close association is also maintained with Harvard's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS), the Kennedy School of Government (KSG), the School of Public Health (SPH), and the Graduate School of Design.
PROJECT UPDATE: I will be hosting an open studio at the Harvard Forest (324 N. Main Street, Petersham, MA 01366). on Saturday, April 29, 2017 from 12 to 4pm. All are welcome to view and discuss ongoing work both in and outside the studio. Light refreshments will be served.
“New England Futures Scenario Quadrant,” digital drawing, 7.5 x 11 inches, 2016. Illustrative New England quadrant visualization featuring government and population as two driving scenario forces. Illustration based on photography of Fisher Museum land-use diorama at Harvard Forest. Collaboration with Jonathan Thompson et al.
“Future New England Landscape Scenarios No. 2 of 4; High Population and Low Government,” digital drawing, 7.5 x 11 inches, 2016. Illustration based on photography of Fisher Museum land-use diorama at Harvard Forest.
“Future New England Landscape Scenario No. 22,” digital illustration on paper; 8”X10” 2016
Illustration based on audit of Harvard Forest lab meeting at which researchers shared findings from recent scenario focus group in Burlington VT.
Sea levels rise by 22 feet. “Climate Change Refugees” flee East Coast. Cape Cod Diaspora inundates Vermont commons and coopts town meetings. Dairy farms lose ground to “Field & Stream” condo development. First covered car wash bridge opens in summer of 2049 in West Arlington, Vermont.
“Landscape Futures Prop Kit,” wood, rope, paper, acrylic, found knobs, dials and hardware, dimensions vary, 2016. Collaboration with Dr. Matthew Duveneck.
Pedagogical props as teaching tool for landscape futures outreach. Kit of familiar forms serve as prompts for understanding scenario computer modeling and implications of future New England landscape scenarios over the next 50 years.
“Widow Maker Warning Sign,” design study for installation at Harvard Forest, recycled field equipment (aluminum/plastic louver vent, plant ID sticks, hardware), hemlock, and vinyl, 16 x 16 x 42 inches, 2017. Collaboration with Dr. Aaron Ellison et al.
“Hemlock Hospice Helmet,” design study for custom forestry helmet, 6 x 10 x 12 inches, 2017. Collaboration with Dr. Aaron Ellison et al.
Hardhats are required by researchers working in dead/dying stands of hemlock trees at Harvard Forest. Safety authorities say the helmet won’t save you from a falling tree; it merely makes an open casket possible. If you got to go, might as well go out with a “lil’ flare!”
“Hemlock Hospice Data Logger Box,” installation at Harvard Forest: wood, aluminum, acrylic paint, vinyl, aluminum tape, and hardware, 16 x 16 x 42 inches, 2017. Collaboration with Dr. Aaron Ellison et al.
“Wayfinding Lantern,” recycled field equipment (heat lamp, wood/plexiglass ant nests, aluminum tape, miscellaneous hardware), hemlock, and acrylic, 12 x 12 x 16 inches, 2017.
“Direct Action Powered Up,” installation at Harvard Forest: recycled field equipment (heat lamp, wood/plexiglass ant nests, aluminum tape, miscellaneous hardware), hemlock, paint, and vinyl, 10 x 12 x 16 inches, 2017
“Environmental Threat Level Sign,” design study for installation, recycled specimen box, fence posts, dowels, acrylic, vinyl, and hardware, .25 x 1.5 x 3 feet, 2017.
I was awarded a Studios at MASS MoCA Assets for Artists Residency in April 2016. I used the opportunity to focus my practice on North Adams’ Hoosic River. The goal of the place-based project was to promote a shared awareness and heightened cultural value of the urban watershed of the Hoosic River in North Adams and the greater Hoosic River Watershed (MA, NY, and VT). Research and community outreach informed the project, which aimed to highlight cultural and ecological issues at play in North Adams and ultimately promote a constructive dialog about the community stewardship of the Hoosic River Watershed.
As part of the Residency, I interviewed a diverse, intergenerational group of stakeholders including local residents, recreationists, conservation groups, artists, research scientists, and other creative minds engaged with the Hoosic River. I gathered discoveries through conversation, secondary research, on-site exploration and observation.
While in North Adams, I created daily digital drawings to communicate the ongoing local narrative of the Hoosic River’s urban ecology. The series of digital prints were made by combining photography of iconic Hoosic River and North Adams views with suggestions for installations. These proposals are memorial, testament, and celebration of the Hoosic River. The site-responsive works address issues of river access, recreation, fisheries, river ecology, water quality, infrastructure, and cultural history, practice and future. Conceptualized as the Hoosic Expedition, the proposals form an interpretative trail along the two channelized sections of the river.
Follow @davidbuckleyborden on Instagram and check #hoosicdailies to see the daily drawings from the residency.
Special thanks to folks from the Hoosic River Revival, Williams College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, MASS MoCA and Sasaki Associates for sharing their insight, research and passion.
HOOSIC RIVER SIGN ON R.R. BRIDGE
Bridge: obstacle or opportunity? Leverage existing railroad bridge to announce presence of “hidden” river below in support of Hoosic Watershed awareness. Flashing signs post distances to Hudson River and Atlantic Ocean.
Throughout 2014 I participated in Trifecta Editions’ Hibernaculum Artist Residency. This project continued my ongoing exploration of alternative approaches to communicating past, present and future North American landscape issues. Driven by my passion for the Great Outdoors experience, the ultimate goal of the project was 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 created several temporary site-specific landscape installations on Trifecta Editions’ 30-acre site outside of Ticonderoga, NY. These installations and the research behind their design and construction were the basis for a collaborative silkscreen print series with Trifecta Editions.
This year-long project concluded with an multidisciplinary exhibition featuring a variety of work including the print series, multi-media drawings and select landscape installations adapted to the gallery environment. In support of the educational intent, the Hibernaculum exhibition was designed to be an immersive installation celebrating collaborative art & design inspired by nature and a deeper understanding of ecology.
The exhibition was supported by a month of programming featuring established and emerging voices from Boston's art and design community including the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Boston Society of Architects, AntiDesign, Loyal Supply Co., Boston Society of Landscape Architects, A Street Frames, Trifecta Editions and others.
PROJECT UPDATE: Due to the overwhelmingly positive response from gallery visitors, the greater Boston creative community, local press and Innovation and Design Building tenants alike, the Innovation and Design Building extended the Hibernaculum exhibition through the end of July 2015.
About Trifecta Editions
Trifecta Editions is a growing print collective based in Boston. 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.
The culmination of the Hibernaculum Residency was an immersive exhibition at the Innovation and Design Building in Boston's Seaport District. The multidisciplinary installation featured a variety of work ranging in scale and media. Much of this work included collaborative design and production with a cast of collaborators ranging from painters to lettering artists to wood workers. View select Gallery installation work here.
Habitat Blanket Proposal
The foundation of the Hibernaculum is a series of one-page landscape installation proposals. Proposals are intended to meet at the intersection of popular culture and pressing ecological issues and everyday environmental phenomena. Accessibility to the general public is central to each proposal as a means to promote greater landscape appreciation and ecological awareness. Select proposals were constructed on site at Eagle Lake and/or in the Innovation and Design Building gallery. View select one-page proposals here.
Woodland Sign: Firewood Quarantine
A series of light-touch landscape installations were made in and around the property of the Trifecta Editions residency. For example, hand painted sign (pictured) with lettering artist John Cronan. Other installations include, Hibernaculum Woodpile Target, Wetland Forest Flag, Geologic Site Marker and more. View select on-site installations here.
Winter Nurse Log Silkscreen Print
The Hibernaculum project features a collaborative silkscreen print series with Trifecta Editions. The print series, inspired by time spent on Eagle Lake, center on the ecology and natural history of the Adirondack Mountains. View select prints here.
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
In January 2015 I was awarded the Teton ArtLab Artist Residency in Jackson, Wyoming. I used the month-long residency to investigate ecological and cultural forces at play within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The research-driven artwork promotes ecological awareness by highlighting environmental management, cultural attitudes, and land-use practices found throughout the iconic ecosystem.
The year-long project culminated with a multi-disciplinary immersive installation featuring silkscreen prints, mixed media drawings, maps and installations in and outside the galleries at Daly Projects in Jackson, Wyoming. In conjunction with month-long exhibition at Day Projects, I realized several temporary installations throughout Teton County.
The Greater Yellowstone exhibition consisted of four creative components: unsolicited proposals, GYE maps, silkscreen prints and temporary art installations.
Unsolicited Proposal for United States Forest Service
Unsolicited Proposals reflect the range of attitudes, conditions, and practices within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. These one-page, site-specific proposals were informed by interviews with ecosystem stakeholders ranging from individuals to government agencies. View select proposals here.
Detail of "Camp Wood" Installation at Jackson Hole Center for the Arts
Site-specific installations manifested select Unsolicited Proposals throughout Teton County. Installations included wood sculptures, large-format flags, silkscreen prints on canvas and other eye-catching collaborations with both Boston and Jackson artists. View select installations here.
Standing Dead Forest Map
Greater Yellowstone Maps focused on the intersection of the cultural landscape and ecological conditions making up the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Mapping included both NTS maps and cartography-based spatial data derived by ESRI.
"Black Flag Ecology," silkscreen print with watercolor, 9" X 12"
Silkscreen prints and mixed media work drew on ecology, cultural identity, natural history, and conservation practice found in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Select mixed media prints are available for purchase here.
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.
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 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: Downwind
Fig 10.8. Downwind smoke and pollutant deposits related to temperatures above the ground. Adapted from Geiger (1965).
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.
Wild West at BDGA
Wild West at BDGA was a multi-disciplinary art and design installation focused on America’s conflicted relationship with its landscape and natural resources. The installation set aside the popular narrative of inflated romance and violence associated with young America’s western frontier experience for a narrative that instead positioned 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 conflict, 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 included 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 considered current environmental issues such as water rights, fracking, mega-droughts, industrial livestock agriculture, road ecology, and more.
This self-financed research-based 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 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.
Wild West at BDGA was 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.
During March 2017 I was a "Water Rights" resident at the Santa Fe Art Institute in Santa Fe, NM. I used the month-long themed residency to investigate regional water rights issues through the lens of landscape futures, infrastructure systems, and speculative design. I look forward to the continued development of this work in Fall 2017.
Last Update: 3/28/17
I participated in the Boston Fun-A-Day 2014 project by developing 31 one-page landscape installation proposals during the month of January. The work was a freewheeling exploration of the New England landscape and our cultural love affair with the region's “great outdoors." Accessibility by the general public was central to the proposals in service to landscape appreciation and ecological awareness.
Beyond the 31 drawings, the ultimate goal of this project was a brainstorming exercise for a design-build project. Several of the proposed landscape installations were further developed and constructed as part of my participation in Trifecta Edition's Hibernaculum Artist Residency Program.
Fun-A-Day Boston 2014 Art Show & Reception Hosted by Voltage Coffee & Art Opening Reception February 21st, 7-9pm February 17th through April 5th. 2014
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.
Barn Image Source: Simmonds, WILLIAM G., Advertising Barns, Vanishing American Landmarks, St. Paul: MBI Publishing, 2002.
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 forestry 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 for your bespoke axe as a bespoke commentary.
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.
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.
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.
Friday Night Funnies
Sometimes after a long week of grinding on the urban design production line, a little levity is in order.
She Will Bite Back
Ecosystem in action.
Mixdd media: Ink, graphite, colored pencil and carbon transfer on paper, 8.5 x 11”, Winter 2012.
Mixed media: Pen, pencil, carbon transfer on paper, 8" X 10", Spring 2010.
Mixed media: Pen, pencil, carbon transfer on paper, 8" X 10", Spring 2010.
Mixed media: Pen, pencil, carbon transfer on paper, 8" X 10", Spring 2012
Mixed media: Pen, pencil, digital typography on paper, 8" X 10", Spring 2011
Mixed media: Pen, pencil, water color paint, carbon transfer on paper, 8" X 10", Spring 2010
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 73 as of May 2015.
Buffalo Head Source: Harper’s Magazine. Publication date and artist unknown.
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:Ink, graphite, colored pencil, water color paint 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
Massachusetts' Premier Ecological Engineer
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 Rives BFK grey paper, 8 X 10", Spring 2013.
Beaver Head Source: Curious Woodcuts of Fanciful and Real Beasts, Gesner, Konrad, ed. New York Dover Publications, Inc. 1973.