Drawing as Imagining Absence: Sometime prior to 1963 a person sat down at a table to draw a map. This person could effectively communicate with lines across a page, possessing the technical skills of rendering exact scale ratios of a three-dimensional space on a sheet of paper. The task of this artist was to draw a blueprint that would be used to harness a river for industrial use.
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When I’m asked to speak about the work I do as an artist, a cultural organizer, and Collaborative Director of Water Bar & Public Studio, I often struggle with two important points of departure: How do I introduce myself when I have so many different roles in my artistic and organizing life? And where do I begin telling the story of this complex, evolving project—which I did not imagine or develop on my own, and which is more of ecosystem that I tend with others than it is a definable creative project?
Across the last several decades of China’s last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1912), and China’s first republic (1912-1949), on the banks of a river connecting Tianjin with the sea, the most important seaport of North China in the early twentieth century was built, thanks to the consistent efforts of river conservancy…
In 1999, I read in a newspaper about the contentious Three Gorges Dam project. China’s leaders had a grand vision of transforming the Yangtze River into the biggest artificial lake in the world in an attempt to control recurring floods and to generate an estimated 10 percent increase in hydropower energy…
Place always exists in a particular time, and for Northeastern Pennsylvania that time is anthracite coal time. Because coal mining has decreased significantly over the past 50 years, the result has been a major outmigration of the area’s traditional population… However, the legacy of coal still runs deep as reminders of coal heritage are scattered throughout the 484 square miles that make up the anthracite coal region.
In February 1872, Horace W. Cleveland trudged through the snowy streets of Minneapolis to the Pence Opera House. His goal was to deliver a speech convincing the city planners, wealthy landowners, and businessmen to work quickly on protecting and preserving the scenic beauty found throughout the growing cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
We recognize the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., mainly through its associated landscape, whether of gloriously blooming cherry trees or the famous monuments surrounding it. It is a famous place largely because of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which draws a large number of visitors to the capital.