FORESTED call for entires
Not all creative endeavors have a purpose or reason. Recent years I have tried to apply a graphic representation to a physical experience (see Shawnee 50 or Dawg Gone Long Run). Other times there has been a specific end product as a gift or item for sale (see EDC bag or National Parks Map). With the completion of each project comes the anticipation for the next. Similarly, when I stumble upon an incredible dataset my mind races to what it could be or how it could be harnessed. So when one of the smartest and creative people I know, Kristi Cheramie, puts out a call for landscape inspired art, there was suddenly a reason to create.
Maps have always been a source of inspiration and wonder. Perhaps it is the boredom of staring at road maps for hours on end during road trips (in an era before smart phones and tablets). But they have also become my profession as an urban planner. They tell stories, and the best ones are not only informationally rich but aesthetically beautiful. After reading the FORESTED exhibition description I knew that my approach was to be a map.
The map I wanted to study and develop was a scale that I rarely get to use, that of the entire nation. Plenty of resources like the US Department of Agriculture and US Forestry Service have terabytes of data available free for download to the masochistic folks willing to mine the information they seek. For me, that was the start of a two week journey to prepare a submission to Kristi and the Knowlton School of Architecture.
Ideally, each time someone looks at Green Forests, a different aspect reveals itself. My attempt was to compare the historically devolving vegetated areas with the expanding energy provider farms of wind turbines. The pale greens depict prime areas for turbines based on wind speeds but these areas are not necessarily bound to any large unvegetated space. The Great Plains reveals itself in this way as it does provide a corridor for consistent wind energy but looks very similar to the deserts of the southwest which offer nothing in this facet. This gallery submission was named such because it studies the nature of forests (wind farms and hardwood forests), their sustainability, and historic implications.
Green Forests contrasts forestation of two types; 1873’s historic forestation and current day biomass, with annual average wind speeds and current wind farm locations. In some cases, areas that were once forests, specifically in the Midwest, have seen drastic reductions in coverage. This can generally be attributed to the growth of large scale farming and capitalization on fertile soils. Conversely, these areas now have some of the most consistent wind speeds and have therefore seen the highest densities of wind farms. What will be the narrative of land usage and energy consumption over the next 150 years?