Art Work writing ecoart webwork bio links


Cascading Memorials: Urbanization and Climate Change in San Diego County

cascading memorials installation view

Installation View: The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, La Jolla, California

In the last one hundred years, San Diego County has experienced an astounding rate of population growth--from 60,000 to over three million inhabitants. Correspondingly the county is home to more threatened and endangered species than any other county in the continental United States. “Cascading Memorials” fosters discussion about the future by bringing to public memory both recent and predicted losses brought about by rapid urbanization coupled with climate change.

The main gallery includes memorials to particular sites indicative of the natural habitats that are rapidly changing or disappearing due to the combined effects of urbanization and climate change. This exhibition focuses on the chaparral and forested areas of the county, omitting work on the coastal zones. Each memorial includes elaborate photomontages accompanied by pages from journal/sketchbooks that provide scientific and historical context. The montages, which compress or expand space, are designed to evoke a feeling sense of each locale. Seven phrases or questions along the wall open curiosity about the images on view. These questions are amplified in the sketchbook pages placed on the pedestals identifying each site.

Memorials focus memory, providing a place both to mourn and celebrate. In the center of gallery, "a place to grieve" offers visitors an opportunity to grieve the astounding loss of local habitats by contributing their memories of the plants and animals that are dying, of the places that have irreparably changed or no longer exist. But grief need not be paralyzing. In "a place to envision a future where all beings may flourish" gallery visitors are engaging in dialogue, sharing their visions on leaves that now sprout from all the branches of trees painted on a gallery wall.

An exhibition of artist books in the North Reading Room contextualizes the current exhibit. I Love Del Mar, compares the narcissism and lack of boundaries in familial relationships to the marketing strategies employed by suburban real estate developers. Legends, a series of works named after an actual housing development, explores marketing strategies that import fantasies with roots from around the world while denying local cultural, historical, and biological legacies. Preserving Paradise, (included in the main gallery) centered in Carmel Valley, presents the competing narratives of planners, environmental and affordable housing activists, old time residents, new home buyers and developers, focusing on the success and failures of visionary planning efforts.


Memorial to Chaparral missiontrails image

Installation View: The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, La Jolla, California
Click on selected images for a larger view
All images on this site © Ruth Wallen

Selected portions of the installation:

Otay Mountain
Pine Creek
Dawson Reserve
A Place to Grieve
A Place to Imagine