Rain Follows the Plow
salt, brass, live barley seedlings - 10" x 40" x 60"
A living patch of sprouting barley stands isolated amid a landscape of salt, supported by a delicate irrigation line. The grass presents a vibrant oasis of life within a stark and barren expanse; yet it is ambiguous whether this little garden should be admired for its pluck, or mocked for its folly. Both vibrantly alive and painfully vulnerable, it represents the combination of defiance and naiveté, stubbornness and faith, that characterizes the history of mankind's exploration of new lands.
The phrase "Rain follows the plow" was used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to encourage homesteaders to push ever westward to settle the American continent. The quasi-scientific theory -- that planting crops in the arid West would increase annual rainfall there -- was no more than wishful thinking; it led to dire poverty for countless families and widespread ecologic devastation for the region. The complicated, critically important, and emotionally charged issues of water and land use in the American West continue to present challenges into the 21st century.