manifesto for a new american landscape


Edition of three handbound books, wintergreen oil transfers
Drawings of major rivers and bodies of water of the United States

Excerpt from artist book:

I want a new American landscape.

For centuries people have been looking to landscape for a place to set down their ideas.  Landscape—the image we hold in our minds of what land and place are—has incredible power.  What we believe of landscape we enact on the actual land.  …

This is my manifesto: that we learn to see ourselves as part of the earth, part of the world. Instead of a landscape divided into what is natural and not, nature and human, we need a new landscape big enough for loggers, city-dwellers, back-woods back-to-the-landers, and people who grow a thousand acres of corn.  We need to see the earth as inhabited, and inhabited by us.

If we are going to survive here we cannot live with a landscape that tells us that the earth is something separate from ourselves.  A landscape that is the air we breathe, the crops we grow, the dirt our practices erode, the pavement and the deserts, the ancient forests and the suburban play sets and gardens. We need a landscape with room in it for humans and for human dependence.

This is a landscape we can live with.

Postscript: February 2021: After reading William Cronon’s classic “The Trouble with Wilderness” essay in 2008 and following it up a year later with a study of Ansel Adams landscape photography, I became deeply concerned with ideas about land and landscapes. Now, more than a decade later, I’m happy to be troubling my way through these same questions with fellow historians of the environment and technology. I’m  still trying to find a landscape we can live with.