Awareness of the environment is an accumulative process. I grew up in a small town where the river naturally flooded, where there was a distinct edge between village and surrounding woodlands and farmlands, only to witness a sprawl of land use that blurred the boundary. I saw the killing of fish caused by the "accidental" release of chemicals and the disappearance of songbirds along the hedgerows between farm fields due to the growing reliance on insecticides. I was 20 years old when Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was published which reinforced my observations. I am concerned about the disconnect between us and the systems of our environment, and in my work I attempt to address the reconnect.
The Monolith presents social, historical, and ecological concerns. It talks about energy and geology, about what was gained, and what was lost when Shasta Dam was built. These concerns bring substance to the art making. Art making that distills issues into a distinct concept. For the viewer, I wanted the journey through this historic gravel pit to be experiential and provocative rather than didactic and one-dimensional. The Monolith was, in itself, an engineering accomplishment, as was Shasta Dam, the recipient of its aggregate. Placing a solar array in the shape of Shasta Dam atop The Monolith, creates a metaphorical connection between the two structures with their shared history, and creates power both through ecological technology and iconic sculpture.
As the toughest critic of my work, I feel this project works aesthetically. I also watch how this project, being a public venue, is received by the visitor, and there seems to be enough clues for most people to gain access at a variety of levels to the intent of the project. The project has a second phase, as yet unfunded due to protracted timelines, which allows the concept to marinate.