HIDDEN WATERS :: DESERT SPRINGS

 

Hidden Waters - portraits of water, time and place. Since before time’s history, natural springs have meant survival for flora, fauna and humanity. A scientist’s field notes would list: water quality, biotic integrity, habitat, geomorphology, human influence and other defining characteristics. As an artist, I’m captivated by each springs’ personality and story, lush or dried up, important to indigenous peoples, immigrant travelers, and animals. Tiny compared to their vast landscapes, springs hold clues about the health and longevity of earth’s fresh water including 20% of endangered species in North America. In modern times, they are mainly disregarded with about 85% of springs being drained or destroyed. Those remaining exist as a significant gauge of climate change.

I began this project on a springs’ inventory biology field trip with the Director of Springs Stewardship Institute. I discovered a world teeming with life within a trickle of water—a single spring that held an entire ecosystem engaging in complex webs of interactions. I was drawn to its vulnerability as I’m attracted to the under-recognized that live on the edge of endurance.

For the last two years, armed with a sense of adventure, a rented GPS, a cell phone with unreliable service, and a little luck, I’ve searched for the reality behind those little blue dots on my paper maps. While maps were accurate they weren’t always up to date. Sadly springs were often gone or altered beyond recognition.

19th century sepia landscape photographs are how we try to imagine the past. Understanding our future is equally unfathomable. I see the land as something living and changing. Only the present is vivid. Change is either too abrupt or too gradual for us to grasp in the narrowly focused moment we inhabit. These landscapes viewed through time’s lens are at a turning point in time, unseen. Seeing them might prolong their lives and our own.