Friends of Pando Logo

Friends of Pando

Artist in Residency

The Role of Art in Conservation...

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.

artist painting in the pando tree
Artist Kirk Henrichson painting plein air style in Pando ~Photo by Lance Oditt

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.

A recent discovery, stories that need to be told...

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.

Setting roots and inspiring stewardship...

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:

  1. Develop an oral histories program to document local and natural histories and capture the human experience of Pando and the land it calls home. 
  2. Invite regional artists to explore how we can best support the artists who live their lives and share the land with the Pando tree.
  3. Support experimental multimedia artists working to document the natural soundscape of the tree enriching the human experience of Pando while exploring the use ambient recordings in wildlife studies.  
image of a Pando branch reflected in water pooled in a lava formation
Image of a Pando branch reflected in water pooled in a lava formation ~Lance Oditt

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.

Meet the 2022 Participants...

Jeff Rice, Sound Artist

Sound artist Jeff Rice working in the field

Bio

Jeff Rice is a Seattle-based journalist and sound artist with a long-standing interest in natural soundscapes. His work as a field recordist has been featured in Outside Magazine, the Los Angeles Times and, National Public Radio, and in 2018 his recordings of the Pando aspen grove were part of The New York Times Magazine’s Ellie Award-winning issue “Listen to the World.”

His recordings have appeared in film, television, and theater productions as well as multimedia exhibits by artists ranging from Maya Lin to Ann Hamilton (in videos for the common S E N S E) and Karine Laval’s Trembling Giant. He is excited to be visiting Pando this summer to explore the sounds of one of the oldest and largest organisms on the planet.

Why Pando...?

In some ways, Pando is defined by its sound…” says Rice. “…its species name, ‘quaking aspen,’ refers to the trembling of its leaves, but the resulting sound is inseparable from that. Pando is also very personal to me. I grew up hiking around Utah and whenever I hear an aspen grove I know I am in a good place, usually somewhere high in the mountains or far enough away from the city to hear the earth again.

In recent years, Rice has been working with Ambisonic microphones that capture three-dimensional sound prints of natural environments. He will use Ambisonics and other recording techniques to document Pando’s sonic beauty, but also its place in time. His project will contemplate what audio recordings might tell us about Pando’s past and future and why humans need to pay attention.

Jeff Rice Work Samples

© 2022  | Design : Hope Smith  &  Lance Oditt