Headlands Center for the Arts

Mary O’Brien

california | architecture/environment
Affiliate Program 2018—2019
Affiliate Program 2017—2018

Artist Statement

I tell evolving stories about public domain lands that take place over several years, and where the events documented, and the places where they occur, evolve to become indistinguishable from each other. Rooted in the research I develop as part of a collaborative environmental art practice—Watershed Sculpture, these essays offer inquiries into present day relationships between community and land, and ways in which they influence each other. I write essays of historic and current day events that bridge science, art, and cultural histories. Mapping through geologic time and human history, and with focus on the connectedness of land forms, water courses, and human pathways, my intentions is that both my ecological art and essays become a catalyst for affecting positive ecological balance in lands affected by the built environment.

While at Headlands

Relying on time/place mapping, I will address the notion of individual and collective responsibility in community responses to increased environmental degradation. My intention is to track the evolution of these human interactions through essays that convey both the resulting ecological adaptations, as well as the civic response. As deregulation of environmental protections becomes a potentiality, dissimilar communities find themselves saddled with equivalent environmental urgencies. How these communities discover and proffer remedial civic actions has lessons to teach about current and local conservation issues, environmental self-responsibility, and safeguards for the lands and waters that surround our homes. I plan to anchor my research, essays, and visual documentation into a larger manuscript for publication. I also hope to be able to tap the source of human desire for nature-based experiences through sharing this work with the Headlands community.

Selected Works

Personal Website