ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT exists to amplify threats to public lands through creative projects and by connecting artists and arts audiences to watchdog environmental groups. We have been bringing dancers, visual artists, writers, sound artists, and musicians to areas of Mt. Hood National Forest that are proposed to be logged or developed. Artist work created in response has been presented publicly with the goal of increased public awareness for protection of wildlands and increased engagement with environmental activism within the Portland arts community. The name of the project is derived from the required documentation that the government must collect to show potential impacts on the environment before development occurs. This process has been increasingly dismantled by industry and removed from public involvement. EIS seeks to reimagine and redefine the form, scope and potential impact of an environmental impact statement through artist research and response. Through this process EIS has created spaces for expression and conversation around ecological, social and political issues central to public land management on Mt.Hood. The project also questions the role of the artist in the debate of managing public lands.
Environmental Impact Statement is led by Lisa Schonberg, Amy Harwood and Leif J Lee. Participating artists have included Alison Clarys, Danielle Ross, Sam Pirnak, Virginia Marting, Tim Brock, Gary Wiseman, Kim Zitzow, Jodi Darby, Jodie Cavalier, Heather Treadway, Ryan Pierce, and Daniela Molnar.
Since the project began in February 2015, the three coordinators have met several times a month to allow for thoughtful evolution as the original idea moved through feedback from audience and participants. An early invitation to talk about the project as part of Central’s Peripheral to What? symposium at HQHQ gallery was a helpful step in articulating our idea. We initially invited about a dozen artists of different disciplines to commit to joining us for one hike to Mt. Hood forests over the summer. We scheduled several dates and also connected artists to Bark, the watchdog group for Mt. Hood National Forest. Bark offers a free monthly hike to the forest while sharing information about current threats to the forests and rivers.
Over the months, a core group of the original invitations formed. While we continued to engage with all of the artists, we began to develop opportunities to highlight participating artists’ work. In July, we brought together a show at Surplus Space. The show featured visual work from Jodi Darby, Gary Wiseman, Leif J Lee, and Amy Harwood. The opening event included performances by Heather Treadway, Alison Clarys, Danielle Ross, Sam Pirnak, and Lisa Schonberg. The opening event was also a “Welcome Home” party for OR-25, the wolf that crossed through Mt. Hood forests this past spring. It was the first time a wolf has been in the area for nearly 50 years.
The second opportunity to highlight participating artists was Sound Management. In an effort to connect the project to other conservation efforts, we collaborated with the Mazamas, a longtime mountaineering club with a large event space in SE Portland. This unique venue for an art event was an exciting way to bring new audiences into the project. The show highlighted music, puppeteering, participatory work, and the presentation of a new trail established on Mt. Hood by artist Ryan Pierce.
In an interest to highlight the connection of art and activism, we have most recently developed the project Visual Quality Objectives. One the proposed logging projects that we have visited on the north slope of Mt. Hood, the Polallie Cooper Timber Sale, is currently open to public comment period. In the Forest Service’s environmental analysis, an evaluation of the impacts to the “visual quality” of the forest is always incorporated into the required analysis. We have posted a Call to Artists on our website, asking people to imagine on-site and inspired art projects that would be not be possible if the visual quality of the forest was impacted by the proposed logging. These project ideas will be submitted as part of the legal record, forcing the Forest Service to respond to this loss of future cultural resource. The best project idea will be given an honorarium towards realizing the project.
Additionally, we are wrapping up documentation of our cumulative work in an upcoming print publication. This piece will also include original writing from several participating artists. We plan to host a final event at the Bark office, further connecting our growing group to future opportunities to be involved in advocacy for Mt. Hood forests and rivers.
EIS website/Visual Quality Objectives:
Portland Mercury article: http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/ground-control/Content?oid=15963719
Surplus Space exhibit: