In 1785, the Thomas Jefferson Land Ordinance Act created a systematic grid across the Western landscape. This established mechanisms for land settlement and land commodification. Fast forward to the present. Our surrounding landscape is now divided into numerous types of land: private and public, commercial and residential, state and federal, forest lands and wilderness land and park lands. Different literal or conceptual values are placed on lands within each of these differing boundaries.

The Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities was established by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1972. It is considered the highest honor of intellectual achievement conferred by the federal government. In 2012, Wendell Berry received this award and gave a lecture titled, “It All Turns on Affection,” where he compares and contrasts the land management practices (or affection toward land) of his grandfather with that of industry. 

I read Berry’s lecture in 2015, considering it as I walked through the various land ownerships - the systematic grid - surrounding my mountain property. This altered landscape shows the recent history of the place I now call home, and how it has reshaped over time based on the fluidity of political and cultural values.

In spring, I noticed the first hot pink wildflowers. The wildflowers ignore the imaginary grid that runs through the mountains. Their fondness toward a place is about something much more real, such as soil health, temperature, and water.

Exhibited at The Coos Art Museum in Coos Bay, OR. Special thanks to Rolf Blomquist, Werner Krueger, and Kristopher Schaefer of InHaus Fabrication.