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.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
News from the Field
Jeff Lee, Plant Ecologist / Botanist with the Minnesota Biological Survey, just posted his account of the Boundary Waters Aldo Leonardo trip on the Minnesota Biological Survey's blog. Here is a link to it: www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/mcbs/news2013.html (with photos). Here is a reposting of the article:
"A unique opportunity arose when the Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS) was invited to participate in the Aldo & Leonardo Wilderness Science and Art Collaboration. A partnership of the Colorado Art Ranch and the U.S. Forest Service Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, the collaboration aims to bring together visiting artists and resident scientists to (1) highlight the success of the Wilderness Act on its 50th anniversary in 2014, (2) honor the work of wilderness scientists, and (3) capture and communicate the value of wild areas through artistic expression and interpretation.
As part of the collaboration, MBS plant ecologists Lawson Gerdes and Daniel Wovcha, energetic volunteer Jenna Pollard and I teamed up with visual and relationally-based artist Katherine Ball for an eight-day, MBS Border Lakes survey trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. During her residency, Katie has become familiar with MBS field surveys and mission to guide land management decisions by providing high-quality data on the distribution of rare plants, animals, and communities. Equally poignant, however, was the influence that Katie had on us. Seeing her marvel at the beauty of the Border Lakes, and express that awe with daily postcard writings and reflection, affirmed that wilderness conservation is a shared commonality among scientists and artists alike.
Our route took us through Lakes One, Two, Three, Four, Hudson, Insula, Kiana, and Alice. September weather in the Boundary Waters can be unpredictable, but after two days of rain at the beginning, we were left with dry conditions, cool mornings, and three sunny 73° days at the tail end. Each morning, we left our campsite on the northeastern side of Insula Lake and paddled to the day's field site. Relevé vegetation plots in a red pine forest (FDn43a) and jack pine woodland (native plant community determination uncertain) on Kiana and Alice Lakes respectively, were punctuated by rare plant searches and native plant community evaluations. New populations of American shore-plantain (Littorella americana, State Special Concern) were discovered on pebbly shores of small islands. Franklin's Phacelia (Phacelia franklinii, State Threatened) was found for the first time in the Lake-North sub-county and in the area affected by the Pagami Creek wildfire of 2011. This species is known to prefer habitats of recent disturbance at a fine scale (e.g. tree tip-ups). Until now, however, it had not yet been documented from such an intense, broad-scale disturbance as the Pagami Creek fire in Minnesota.
The fresh perspective that Katie brought to a MBS Border Lakes survey trip was invaluable. Parallels between scientists and artists become apparent as both professions gain greater familiarity with one another. For instance, carrying out a relevé vegetation plot demonstrates precision and detail that is needed for the plot to accurately describe the greater native plant community. The same precision and detail is equally vital for artwork to successfully convey a message, render emotion, or catalyze social change. Our partnership with Katie does not end with the conclusion of the trip. The collaboration extends to her creation of an art piece that celebrates wilderness and by association the biodiversity contained within. This work will become public and showcase how science and art together is more powerful than either one in isolation." — Jeff Lee, 2013