Wire Fence Terminal is an inquiry into the concept of a remnant in the natural world. The work emerges from my exploration of Iowa’s landscape since moving to Iowa City in 2017, specifically the area’s prairie remnants. The work began as a meditation on the vastness of space in the Midwest and transformed as I reflected on ideas of isolation within the landscape. In Iowa, prairie remnants represent vastness in the past tense, and in the present are isolated examples of the way the land remembers being. To guide my projects, I created my own definition of a remnant: what remains of something precious that has been lost. Wire Fence Terminal examines two related ideas – remnants of place and place as remnant – as well as the role humans have played in creating and interacting with these types of remnants.
Remnants of place are examples of vegetation that have been removed from their natural habitat and relocated to another. Remnants of place are linked to human memory – humans create remnants of place because we want to feel connected to, or somehow present in, a place that we can no longer physically be in. In this project, I examine the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a community of tropical plants living under a geodesic dome in Iowa, as an example of a remnant of place. Another remnant of place explored in Wire Fence Terminal is my family’s own fig tree, which traveled 4,487 miles from Morcone-Benevento, Italy to Waterbury, Connecticut.
Place as remnant are examples of what the landscape looked like before human intervention. Place as remnant is linked to the concept that land has memory, and if left alone, has the ability to sustain itself and heal itself. Wire Fence Terminal explores Iowa’s prairie remnants as a way into understanding place as remnant.
Measure for Measure
Measure for Measure is an installation of 4,487 handmade paper seeds. The seeds are displayed in groups, where some are contained in found vintage glass and brass curio boxes and others are uncontained, forming piles. There is one seed for each mile that the fig tree, and my ancestors, traveled.
Prairie Healing Scrolls
Prairie Healing Scrolls contain imagery of prairie grasses and plants along with imagery meant to evoke the wire fence terminal that surrounds the remnants. The dimensions of the scrolls are based on the size of my body; each individual scroll measures seventeen inches wide (the width of my shoulders), by sixty inches long (my height.) Prairie Healing Scrolls is related to healing scrolls as a tradition, which were historically made the height of a person who needed healing and contained text and image meant to purge illness.
Seed Packets & Broadsides
Wire Fence Terminal includes fifteen vignettes that I refer to as remnant text. The remnant text poems where created through the process of erasing John Frederick Lazell’s 1909 book, Some Summer Days in Iowa. In the book, which was published by The Torch Press in Cedar Rapids, Lazell describes the beauty and importance of Iowa’s natural landscape and expresses his fears about the development of the land. My intention in creating an erasure of Lazell’s text is to mirror the erasure of the natural landscape, leaving remnants. The remnant texts I have created through Lazell’s text reference both human memory and the land’s memory and are printed both as an edition of small broadsides and a series of seed packets, where the poem is on the inside of the packet.