In August, 2015, Kathleen Caprario spent ten days as an artist in residence at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest. H.J. Andrews is a 16,000-acre ecological research site in Oregon’s beautiful western Cascades Mountains. These notes were made during that time of reflection and research.
BIO DIVERSITY…HJA August 8, 2015
We are an invasive species. As we alter the land, we alter the culture and ourselves; our collective and individual existence and beliefs are inexorably coupled with the environment, its patterns and well-being.
Biodiversity is an important part of what makes life livable on Earth. The value of ecological and cultural diversity plays out both actually and metaphorically within a society. Cultural occupation– through war, genocide, geographic expansion and the imposition of the dominant groups beliefs and customs–is similar to the encroachment of non-native species that take root and threaten whole eco-systems. The often tenuous balance between industry, human desire and the environment is a drama currently played out on ecological stages world-wide.
The systems and matrices that regulate and sustain a healthy eco-existence favor variation and interdependence within species and habitats. Invading species that dominate or eradicate native and cooperative populations limit diversity and often create unsustainable environments of homogenous populations that encourage disease and potential extinction. Similarly, a healthy human population also displays diverse characteristics and behaviors identified as cooperative, fair, inclusive and just.
The question is—can we play “nice” with one another in the same way that the invertebrates of the forest floor work side-by-side and contribute toward turning a 500-year old log into soil and provide for the ongoing sustainability of not only themselves, their species, but the entire ecosystem?
Kathleen Caprario traded the concrete canyons of the New York/New Jersey Metro Area for the real canyons and broad skies of the Pacific NW in the late 1970’s. She is an artist who has firmly rooted her practice in landscape, identity and the relationship of self to nature as well as an instructor at Oregon State University, Lane Community College and a stand-up comedian. She recently wrote and produced a short film based on her comedy and life, “Mourning After” (19:47), in conjunction with the Shaggy Dog Project and the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA), Eugene which was premiered at the non-juried Short Film Corner at the 67th Cannes Film Festival, France (2014).