2019 - ongoing
Works on paper
In 2015, I worked on a series called Water, is Taught by Thirst at the Blue Mountain Center, an artist residency located at the heart of Adirondacks in northern New York State. I had a map of the Central Adirondacks, and I was tracing the waterways from the map for my work. When I was tracing those waterways from the map, I noticed that there were many names of animals, such as “Eagle lake,” “Little Otter Pond,” “Buck Mountain,” “Beaver Brook,” “Salmon River,” and so forth, as if to keep me company along the rivers and lakes, and up on the mountains.
The Adirondack region became a place very dear to me, because of the natural beauty this region offers, but I’m equally fascinated by the history of the Adirondacks and its promise to be the land for “forever wild.” I’m also interested in exploring how the perception of wilderness by the early European settlers influenced to build the perception of nature and wilderness in America.
The Adirondacks Park was established in 1892 to protect the region from uncontrolled deforestation, but first, the public outcry over declining water quality from deforestation prompted to establish the Adirondack Forest Preserve in 1885. Over two hundred years since the arrival of Henry Hudson on the river in 1609 (which became Hudson River,) and of Samuel de Champlain on the lake (which became Lake Champlain,) the European settlers chopped trees far faster than they could regenerate. There were lumber industry, tanning industry, charcoal industry and iron ore mining industry. They were all destroying the Adirondack forest for profit.
George Perkins Marsh’s 1864 publication titled Man and Nature, which is considered to be the first ecological book, made the public aware of many ecological consequences from deforestation—diminishing capacity to hold water from loss of wetlands, accelerating runoff, and soil erosion. (Sound familiar?) Marsh believed that “a healthy wilderness was self-regulating and self-sustaining.” And he warned that if “another era of equal human crime and human improvidence were to take place, total extinction of the human specifies were quite possible.” (Schneider P., 1997)
I find this rather chilling as we face the sixth extinction.
For this series, I research maps of the Adirondack region and trace animal names from the maps. My works on paper are created with layers of India ink. Floating in a sea of blackness, these tiny texts (animals' names) become stars in the sky, form constellations, and reside as ghosts in our memories of places we hold dear.
Schneider, P. (1997). The Adirondacks: A History of America’s First Wilderness. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, Inc. (pp.221)
More about the Adirondacks:
In 1885, the Adirondack Forest Preserve was prompted by the public outcry over declining water quality and the deforestation of the land in the Adirondack region. Today’s Adirondack Park, a six-million acre parcel of public and private lands, was established in 1892 to protect the region from uncontrolled deforestation.
Once unknown and unexplored by the early Europeans, this area was referred to as “the Dismal Wilderness” by the area’s Indigenous people, and was shown as a blank space in a 1771 map. By 1850, the European settlers had destroyed enough of the Adirondack forest that it became a growing concern for the public, “as the continued depletion of watershed woodlands reduced the soil's ability to hold water, hastening topsoil erosion and exaggerating periods of flooding.” The lumber industry alone was not responsible for the deforestation, the tanning industry used the hemlock trees, the paper industry used spruce and fir, and the charcoal industry used all sizes and kinds of timber.