Barn board, chalk, acrylic, charcoal -- approx. 6' x 28'
Hollister Gallery, Babson College, Wellesley, MA
How do we value the land? In the early 20th century, vast areas of prairie grasslands in the American Great Plains were converted to farmland, forever altering the landscape. The bushels-per-acre accounting of agriculture came at the cost of native plant species, which are superior at capturing carbon, preventing erosion, and supporting a thriving ecosystem. Nevertheless, while westward expansion rolled across the prairie for hubris and profit, the day-to-day reality of farming life is one of humility and honest work.
In Breaking Prairie, salvaged barn board has been cut into silhouettes taken from a 1920 photograph of my great-grandfather's threshing team in North Dakota. They stand in front of a horizon line that marks, at one-one hundredth scale, the size of a standard homestead plot of the era. Below the horizon, the figures themselves have been charred with the image of deep roots, representing the longevity and tenacity of both the land and those who work it.