Preserve Director Gary Brown reported on essential maintenance work in the Preserve during COVID-19, presented a summary of the new Strategic Plan for the Preserve, and previewed the 2021 work season in the Preserve. Volunteers will again be able to help with restoration, garlic mustard pull and plantings, following COVID protocols and registering for events. The Friends Prairie Interns will again work in the Preserve. Gary also previewed the schedule for developing the new Preserve Masterplan, to be completed in Spring 2022.
Emily Arthur, of Eastern Cherokee descent, growing up in the ancestral mountainous lands of North Carolina and Georgia, has a particular interest in observations relating to displacements of species from their traditional places of living, be it birds, animals, or plant species, and the displacements of native people, as well. Her specific message is:
"Art and science share the responsibility of observation and witness. It is through observation that science gives us proof of our material make up. It is through observation that art gives us material proof of our spiritual make up. Encountering a great work of art or a great leap in science changes our perception; it asks us to see and then to see once again, more deeply.”
Arthur illustrated this insight with her case study of the push by developers in California to remove the California gnatcatcher from the list of endangered species, disregarding results of genetic studies in zoological research. Being able to view the laboratory collection of these birds, Arthur transformed her observations into prints (one of these prints is now mounted on the atrium ceiling of the Madison Hilton at Monona Terrace.) Prints, Arthur demonstrated with her slideshow, can lead to a lasting emotional response in the viewer. Printmaking, she maintained, is an extension of observations.
Next, Arthur showed how manipulation of data themselves can deny the truth, and is often used to establish a certain supremacy, usually motivated by the prospect of making a profit. The manipulated observations then can “justify” the elimination of natural habitats of birds as well as other animals and plants, and by extension, the suppression and displacements of human populations. In her art work, she illustrated this insight with California gnatcatchers cast in bronze and bound with ropes, birds without voice, and in parallel, by incorporating in her prints documents of native people expelled from their homelands. For both, birds and people, the ideas of home and place are wrapped up in who we are.