The history of conservation is deeply intertwined with the history of art. Since ancient times, our human ancestors the world over created art to convey something of their time and how they imagine places in an ever-changing landscape. Our earliest human ancestors created petroglyphs, carvings and vast murals on cave walls hidden to us by time. In the 18th century, the romantic poets encouraged us to seek the sublime and not settle for ideas that aim to separate us from the fact we are part of nature and not, mere spectators. In the 19th century during westward expansion in America, it was the work of painters and photographers documenting lands new to them, that inspired the creation of the National Park Service and the National Forest Service.
In more recent times, Robert Glen Kethcum’s documentary work on the Tongass National Forest played a critical role in land use policy in Alaska. Groups like The Place Collective in the United Kingdom blend photography, Global Information Systems, poetry and land art installations to draw attention to our connection with the land while Marshmallow Laser Feast use emerging technologies like computer generated art and virtual reality to educate people about Coastal Redwood trees.
Whether carvings or cave paintings, poetry or photographs, artists have played a vital role in conservation as creative partners who observe and document the world and re-assert our place as part of nature’s imagination.
Despite Pando’s estimated age of 8-12,000 years old, it is still a relatively recent discovery. The tree was first observed in1976 and was not confirmed until 2008 when genetic researchers verified the tree’s true scale. Although human history in the Fishlake Basin spans some 8,000 years, the tree remained hidden in plain sight for most of that time. As a result, we lack a record of the human experience of the tree and the land it calls home.
In 2020, Friends of Pando began work to develop an artist in residency program, gathering feedback and insights from many types of artists with the goal to pilot the program in 2022. It is our hope to expand the program in 2023, supporting writers and artists working in all mediums to observe, record and communicate the human experience of Pando so it may be enjoyed for generations to come.
In 2021, through a generous grant from EJF Philanthropies and in coordination with Fishlake National Forest, Friends of Pando embarked on an effort that will bring together local, regional and international artists, working in all mediums for a pilot Artist in Residency Program to help document the tree and record the human experience of a world where Pando is possible. Three priorities were identified for the program:
Modeled after successful programs on other US Forest lands, each artist will create original Pando-inspired works and share them with the world. In addition, they will donate a work to the Pando Archive enriching our understanding of how people experience the tree.
If you would like to learn more about the program or, submit works for the 2023 program, please use our contact page to reach us.
Friends of Pando is dedicated and working to educate the public, support research and preservation efforts and inspire stewardship of Pando, the world’s largest tree.
Friends of Pando is a proud partner of Pando’s public land stewards, Fishlake National Forest of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture. Learn more about our partnership.
Friends of Pando and its partners are equal opportunity employers.
Just $14 a month supports work to ensure Pando can be enjoyed for generations to come. Make a one-time or, recurring tax deductible donation today.