Leah WilsonVisual artist Leah Wilson creates place-based paintings that address changes within environmental ecosystems over time. Both process and finished paintings reflect an engagement with ecology and environmental engineering through observation and data. In addition to drawing attention to natural cyclical changes, many of her paintings tell stories of landscapes that have been exploited and manipulated for their natural resources, and reveal the results of ongoing habitat restoration projects.
Leah Wilson was born and raised in Southern California. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Art Institute of Southern California (now the Laguna College of Art and Design). After earning an Master of Fine Arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute, Leah Wilson moved to Nevada City in California’s Gold Country in the Sierra Nevada foothills to pursue making art and teaching whitewater kayaking. Often with much overlap in pursuits while there, she created a pivotal project influenced by environmental decision-making process of scientists, resource managers, and special interest groups during the FERC relicensing of her local watershed, the South Yuba River. This experience, as well as years of running whitewater, continues to inform her process.
In 2008, Wilson moved to Eugene, Oregon. A 2012 artist residency at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in the Oregon Cascades introduced her to ecologists working on long-term studies in the forest. That experience, and her interactions with the scientists, relates to her current work. Wilson’s interaction with the forest and its associated ecologists led her to realize that science in general, and ecology in particular, seeks to identify patterns (and changes in patterns) over time. Often, in terms of process and product, the most evident element of her work is repetition, rhythm, and pattern related to water in general, and rivers and streams in particular.
Leah Wilson and Kate Ali
Hult Center Plaza
August 27 – August 3, 2018
How do we adapt to radical change? What does regeneration look like? How do we foster positive growth in our struggling populations? How can we improve/impact our social and cultural landscape to foster a sense of belonging and hope for the future? These questions are being considered at micro and macro levels across our city, state, country and global community, from Eugene’s art community to Federal land management and international policies.
Fire is the springboard for growth. It has been used as a tool because of its regenerative powers in land management and political struggles alike. Last August there was a sense that the whole country was on fire either physically or emotionally. The power and speed in which nature regenerates in the wake of a burnt landscape is both a miraculous and inspiring phenomenon. It is a needed reminder that we are part of a cycle, one that has happened before, will come again and the sooner we rebuild and foster regrowth, the better.
Gray Space Project In Progress:
Projected Date: Fall 2019
Location: to be determined
Water is almost an invisible issue. On the green west side of the Cascade mountains it can appear that water will always be abundant. However, as yearly temperatures rise in Oregon, water resources will become more stressed. The state’s largest reservoir is the snowpack. But summers are becoming hotter and longer, stretching out the dry season, and winters are trending warmer and wetter. An abundant snowpack will no longer be a reliable occurrence. More water will come as rain in the winter and the snow will melt earlier, overreaching the natural capacity of the landscape to store water for drier times. Magnifying changes in the ecosystem’s natural water storage patterns are engineered structures such as roads, farms and dams, and natural phenomena like wildfires and erosion.
This project will draw attention to the changing nature of water in Oregon, and our relationship to it.
Constructing Water, Leah Wilson, Hand-Cut Dura-Lar and Light
Constructing Water, Gallery Installation