People often think that nature ends where the city begins. My projects are designed to allow a site within the built environment to tell its ecological story to the people that inhabit it. As a sculptor, my interest in the natural world rests both in art and science. I use art as a vehicle for translating the patterns and processes of the natural world.
In my practice, I search for sites that provide the opportunity to make visible some of the forces at work on the site. Interested in watersheds, tides, growth and erosion, I make projects that show how nature functions in an urban setting. My previous projects have been about invisible microorganisms and their complicated relationships of eating and being eaten; spiraling hydrological patterns of a stream, mosaic of growth in a vacant lot, prevailing winds and their effects on vegetation, the flow of rainwater through a building.
As a sculptor making large-scale public installations in rivers, streets, parking lots, airports and nature centers, I frequently work as part of a collaborative team seamlessly merging sculpture into the architecture, the topography, and the storm water requirements of the site. For Rain Ravine (2016) at the Frick Environmental Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (a Living Building Challenge Project), I worked with architects, landscape architects and engineers to direct all the roof rainwater through the artwork. For other previous projects installed both on and in rivers, I have worked with the Coast Guard on the Ohio River, the Army Corps of Engineers on the Schuylkill River, and city and state municipalities on the Hudson River.
Regularly bridging art with science, my research often includes collaborations with scientists, fluid dynamic engineers, and geologists. With Cornerstones in Seattle, Washington (1997), I worked with zoologists from the University of Washington by sampling Lake Union to determine its correct aquatic microorganisms. At the Fairmount Waterworks Freshwater Mussel Hatchery (2017), Delaware Estuary ecologists provided an intricate food web that was translated visually for the project.
My work often employs materials from surveying, landscape and construction industries. From sediment control wattles to surveyors tape, I create ways to understand nature using familiar materials to highlight existing and overlooked forms. In Crum Creek Meander (2014) in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, vinyl stripping creates a 300-foot long meandering ‘dry’ stream above ground. In Pink Wedge (2010), yards of surveyors tape uncover the high water mark in a forest.
Through intricate coordination, logistical planning, and art-making in my barn studio, my work and research gives visual form to natural processes that would otherwise remain invisible. To build these visual metaphors, I mesh the clarity of diagrams, the beauty of natural forms and the visceral sense of the site. My practice is motivated by imaging what is too small to be seen, too invisible to be considered or too vast to be understood.