The Edge Effect: re-Imagining the East Jemez Landscape

In collaboration with Kathleen Brennan, Historic fire tower, Bandelier National Monument, NM, 2018

Sponsored by the East Jemez Landscape Futures, Bandelier National Monument, Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC)

Materials: Ponderosa pine pollen on sheet metal plate, topographic map on Plexiglass plate, 192 strands of filament, prepared crow specimen, 12 maps printed on clear film adhered to windows 

As a former hot shot for the U.S. Forest Service, I was invited, in the winter of 2013, to be the curator of Fires of Changeproject and exhibition that explored the causes and impacts of recent catastrophic wildfires in the Southwest. In the summer of 2014, I contacted Kathleen Brennan, an artist from Taos, and invited her to be part of the project. Although we had never met, both of us had been Artists-in-Residence at Grand Canyon National Park, and I was familiar with her photography and video documentary work. 

In the winter of 2015, USGS fire ecologist Collin Haffey, a brainchild behind Fires of Change, brought Kathleen and me back together for another project that he was calling the East Jemez Landscape Futures. Kathleen and I then spent a week-long residency at Bandelier in the spring of 2017. We learned about the ‘fire history’ of the East Jemez, its settling by the Indigenous Puebloan Peoples, by European-Americans, and the historical record of past and recent fires within this landscape. We took a hike up Cerro Grande with the park superintendent, Jason Lott, and the head of natural resources, Jeremy Sweat, and visited the old historic fire lookout. It was during this last visit that our creative juices started flowing. What if Kathleen and I were given the permission to create an installation within the lookout that explored the history of this place?

The Edge Effect: re-Imagining the East Jemez Landscape focuses on the historical boundaries that have fractured the East Jemez and thus the human community as a whole. Communities and cultures across the East Jemez have been faced with unprecedented landscape changes due to severe drought, catastrophic wildfires and devastating floods. Yet now more than ever, because of climate change, we are going to have to break the lines and boundaries that separate us and come together in a coordinated collaborative effort to help steer imaginative novel approaches on how to manage and adapt to these impacted landscapes.