activism in art

This is a Rainbow Lithograph of the Alaskan Coastal Plain where caribou calve their young. I tried to capture the vastness and the intimacy of the Caribou female and her young calves. Lawmakers continuously push to allow the oil industry to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, even though preliminary studies indicate a limited quantity of oil at current US consumption.

This is a Rainbow Lithograph of the Alaskan Coastal Plain where caribou calve their young. I tried to capture the vastness and the intimacy of the Caribou female and her young calves. Lawmakers continuously push to allow the oil industry to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, even though preliminary studies indicate a limited quantity of oil at current US consumption.

I have always been passionate about nature and protecting the world we live in. In 1989 and 1990 I applied to the Organization for Tropical Studies and received a field permit to research and create art work in the Costa Rican Tropical Rainforest. In 1989 I volunteered at the Sea Otter Rescue Center in Alaska.  These experiences were foundational in my dedication to protect and preserve habitats near and far through art, activism and civic engagement.

Upon my return, I designed and built environmental art installations in an effort to educate the public and advocate for legislation to protect these endangered habitats.  As I discussed the tropical rainforest installation, with my Washington University mentor and Ecology Professor Owen Sexton in my MLA program.  He said something that has stayed with me to this day:

While It is important to document the habitat devastation in exotic and faraway places, it is important to first help people understand the species diversity and complex natural ecosystems in their own backyard. Once they have that connection, they will be better able to understand what is at risk in Alaska and the Tropics.

His words challenged me to try to connect people to the local flora and fauna.  When they begin to care about that, they can develop a sensitivity to what's happening in other areas around the world.

When Melanie Choukas-Bradley asked me to join her on the Sugarloaf Mountain project to research and create art for this book, I thought back to my mentor and realized that this would be "walking the talk."

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Over the years I have worked with local conservation groups in efforts to protect clean and and water adjacent to a local coal-fired power plant.  Met with lawmakers to discuss development pressure in Montgomery County's Agricultural Reserve. Given testimony on a wide array of regional issues that would threaten the environment.  In 2001 I led the fight to stop Virginia developers from building a new Potomac river bridge with the associated development into the Agricultural Reserve.

Today, I am a volunteer board member on two local civic organizations that work to protect the Agricultural Reserve:

 

Civic Engagement on behalf of the environment and creating art that reflects the natural landscape in the Sugarloaf Mountain Countryside, is the focus of my work.