History: The Desert Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona was founded by the Carnegie Institution in 1903 to better understand how plants adapted to arid desert environments. Numerous long term ecological experiments were created on the 860 acres (3.5 km2) around Tumamoc Hill. The facility and staff were key contributors to what is now considered the science of ecology, including participating in the creation of the Ecological Society of America in 1915 and the journal Ecology.
Program/project name: “Tumamoc Sketchbook.”
From the Sketchbook:
“The “Tumamoc Sketchbook” is about one small 860 acre place. It’s an open sketchbook and journal of art and writing done on or about Tumamoc Hill, a unique ecological, historical, and archeological landmark on the wild western side of Tucson. Tumamoc is a natural desert mountain preserve surrounded by a fast-growing city. Scientists have protected it since 1906. Now it’s up to our community to preserve it for the next century. The first step is to stop, look, and learn…
Art and writing is my way of forming a relationship with a place. I use them to become immersed in a place and letting it suggest what I do next. Drawing also adds meaning to a place. Ultimately the content we produce adds to a developing cultural value which is long-lasting. That value or emotional connection in the minds of the community is what will protect the Hill for the next century, as scientists have done for the previous one.
In this vein, I will also be encouraging other artists and writers to spend time here, by invitation, using Tumamoc as a subject. Each person forms his or her own connection, whether it is science or humanistic work.
Whatever comes out of this process, from me or from others, is collected sequentially in this blog. The traditional theories of art as “self-expression” seem to be turned on their head here. It is as though the subject matter, the environment, the Hill in it’s infinite detail, expresses itself through the open-ended effort that I and other artists do here. You just walk around and the subjects come to you.
Artists and writers usually want to share what they have discovered. In this natural way meanings accumulate and become a sense of place. The place can become a landmark in the minds of a whole community, encouraging a sense of stewardship and protection towards a natural place that is right next door, part of our neighborhood.”
Contact Person: Paul Mirocha