A Wilderness Science and Art Collaboration

Aldo & Leonardo, a partnership between Colorado Art Ranch and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, is a project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The project is inspired by the scientific wisdom of Aldo Leopold and the artistic genius of Leonardo da Vinci. Our endeavor is an interdisciplinary collaboration of artists and scientists designed to celebrate the lands, resources and opportunities protected by the Wilderness Act. In 2013, we are hosting one-month residencies in six diverse wilderness areas. Artists will work alongside wildland research scientists and gain firsthand knowledge of the wonders, complexities and challenges of our nation's wildest places. The result will be a body of work that creatively illustrates the value of wild areas and honors the scientific efforts to preserve wilderness for the next fifty years.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument: Ben McCarthy Artist in Residence

By Ben McCarthy

Hello, my name is Ben. I am an artist who has lived on Planet Earth for 23 years now, creating various forms of artwork throughout the journey—always inspired by Nature, Science, and Music. I love to play the piano, draw pictures, and continuously develop my passion for Sculpture. I was recently accepted to be one of the Artists in Residence for the Aldo & Leonardo: Canyons of the Ancients destination. I am truly honored to have been granted such an interesting and exciting opportunity. The site is one of sacred history and beauty, and I greatly look forward to absorbing the culture, landscape, and artifacts as artistic inspiration.

Along the years, my work has evolved from an instinctual creative outlet into a dedication to articulating the perception of life—collecting philosophies from great thinkers of the past and combining them with a sense of modern exploration and discovery. I have grown a distinct admiration for the artwork and architecture built by our ancient ancestors. Through this appreciation, clay has become of interest to me as a material with infinite malleability, outlasting durability, and elements of encapsulating time and human thought. Perhaps it is the historical connection of the medium that engages my pursuit to unlock a prehistoric puzzle, or maybe it is the meditative nature of the process. Lately I have been building ceramic structures that emulate the style of ancient statues revisited with a futuristic playfulness. Included is a photograph of a piece I made last week. (The clay is still drying) I have also included some images of simple, beautiful artifacts found in the Canyons.

I chose to apply for this position because of the emphasis on studying wilderness. Traversing a variety of landscapes and spending time outdoors is essential for me as an artist. Leonardo da Vinci has provided excellent ideas and illustrations that promote knowledge of the natural world and how it can influence the progress of science and engineering. I also admire Aldo Leopold's form of poetic scientific discourse, which shares his connectedness with the land in a unique way.

Plans for the residency include: taking many photos, maintaining a detailed journal and sketchbook of daily activities, creating 2D and sculptural works in spirit of the site, and maybe some musical/animated video pieces—all of which I will share afterwards via the Internet. I can hardly wait to embark on this new adventure to the Canyons of the Ancients—and am especially happy to share the experience with two other talented individuals, Leslie Sobel and Esther Rogers. A big, heartfelt "THANK YOU" to the Colorado Art Ranch, Aldo & Leonardo, and the Bureau of Land Management for this chance!!!

Mesa Verde Black-on-White Mug
AHC# 95.12.5MT10508.CER.40.13.1

Ceramic Figurine
AHC # 93.19.5MT2525.RC25
AD 700 - 1300

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