ARTIST STATEMENT: WATERSHED
Here in Northern Arizona, a small change in moisture can have profound consequences for life: moss-laden Douglas firs thrive in the shade of Walnut Canyon while parched agaves eke by on the rim above. Flagstaff’s regional watersheds are stunningly beautiful and diverse microclimates adapted to dry air punctuated by winter snows and summer monsoons. But the future of our land and water are at risk. Climate change is warming our region, altering precipitation patterns, stressing trees, and increasing demand for groundwater. Wildfires, while necessary for forest health, have grown dramatically more severe, leading to erosion and flooding. Population growth is outpacing Flagstaff’s water supply, prompting the city to purchase a ranch 40 miles away for its water rights. Demand for housing puts open spaces on the outskirts of town at risk of being lost to suburban sprawl. Today, we stand at a watershed moment. Decisions made in the coming years will dramatically affect our community’s future. In 2022, Flagstaff will begin the public process of drafting a 2045 Regional Plan. Will we succeed in prospering economically, while preserving our unique natural resources?
The pieces in this show portray local water-related processes affected by climate change. I incorporate forms and materials gathered from lands at the edge of Flagstaff’s growth boundary, especially those along 89A, which I helped defend against a recent zoning change and have come to know intimately. I use dyes and tannins from tree bark, leaves, and walnut husks; pigments from charcoal, mud, and vintage barbed wire; and wood salvaged from construction sites or wildfires. I capture plant forms using cyanotype chemistry, the same process used to make blueprints in the nineteenth century. To this bright blue foundation I add a second layer of botanical forms using a technique I discovered of making a primitive image by manipulating the wicking properties of certain dyes. Then I build up layers of natural toners, dyes and pigments, along with acrylic paint. These subtle layers reveal themselves gradually with extended viewing, bringing the dimension of time to the two-dimensional surface. I try to create meditative works that beckon you to pause and reflect on the greater mysteries that underlie the natural world and our relationship to it.
Watershed is on view at the Coconino Center for the Arts August 25 – November 13, 2021