2019 - ongoing
Works on paper
“(If) another era of equal human crime and human improvidence were to take place, total extinction of the human species was quite possible.” - George Perkins Marsh, 1854
In 1892, New York State Governor Roswell P. Flower signed the law creating a 2.8 million-acre Adirondack Park. The "blue line" was intended to delineate the boundary within which future forest preserve acquisitions should be focused. The Adirondacks is a region of the forests, farmlands, waters, wildlife, and communities of people co-existing together. From the conservation perspective, it’s one of the kinds, an experiment that’s going on for nearly 130 years.
Extinction Studies is an ongoing series of conceptual drawings based on historical maps of the Adirondacks in Upstate New York. Monochromatic black ink drawings are created by tracing copies of the original maps by hand. The drawings include the names of geographic areas that were named after the wildlife, such as “Eagle Lake,” “Little Otter Pond,” “Buck Mountain,” “Beaver Brook,” and “Salmon River,” but only the animal names appear within the European grid systems of mapping land. The animal names in my drawings were not painted, but left untouched revealing the white of the paper. This is somehow important to me. In my work, the animal names float as tiny white specs in a sea of blackness, as if to form constellations in the sky. Only the titles of the maps and some cartographical information were left visible.
The Adirondack Park and its six million acres were established as a protected region from deforestation in 1892. Wilderness was already in decline from wide-spread deforestation by the 1850s as the European settlers cut down trees for lumber, charcoal, paper, tanning, and iron ore mining—all for profit and financial growth. Conservation efforts were already needed by then due to the considerable damage done.
In 1854, George Perkins Marsh published Man and Nature, an instrumental move to preserve the Adirondacks by raising awareness about the many ecological consequences from deforestation, diminishing capacity to hold water from loss of wetlands, accelerating runoff, and soil erosion. Mr. Marsh warned that if “another era of equal human crime and human improvidence were to take place, total extinction of the human specifies was quite possible.” In the midst of the climate crisis and its disastrous consequences Marsh’s words from over 150 years ago echo with the most alarming tone. Humans are capable of turning a blind eye to what has been wrought in the pursuit of capital.
The land fragmented by the grid lines are based on townships, the systems implemented by colonists. Names of places tell us something about the place. In this body of work, paying close attention to the small texts of animals names on the maps became my obsession and they fueled my imagination. Today, most biologists agree that the world has entered its sixth mass extinction event, the first since 66 million years ago, when more than 80% of all species, including the non-avian dinosaurs, perished. The threats from climate crisis and loss of biodiversity are increasing globally. My map drawings lack roads and sometimes most of waterways that are actually there. Instead, wildlife, some of them as name only in real life, inhibit the space, as if creating a new sort of constellation from our memory.
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.