The LA River Project 2022 - ongoing
The Los Angeles river is one of the most endangered rivers in the US, stretching for 51 miles mostly through a concrete channel. LA River Project began as a data driven inquiry to sequence the DNA of dwindling species along the length of the river. Expanding to include personal interviews with LA river guardians that engage the histories of people and their relationships with the disappearing species along the river, I created numerous paintings in situ with LA river water. These river meanders are a response to local topographies and function as a form of psychogeographic drifting. I further illuminate and preserve these deep-time ecologies by choosing seven species that carry important river stories for communities along the river. These ethically sourced specimens are preserved in a necklace of artist created amber interspersed with LA river concrete and DNA extraction beads. Specimens were additionally coated in gold dust, visualized at high resolution with electron microscopy and woven into a 14 foot painted riverscape. These distorted and disappearing throughlines create a confusion of micro and macro topographies to join earth systems into a body and also function in part as a gesture towards the rematriation land movements of the Gabrielino/Tongva and Tataviam tribes of the LA area. Together these sculptural and painted works propose a tension in the ways that westernized colonial practices have attempted to view, manage, and contain nature.
Activate the DNA data river explorer here.
Many thanks to supporters/collaborators at: the UC Berkeley Art Department for valuable R&D support; CALeDNA program for eDNA data; Rachel Myer's lab at UC Santa Cruz for community building workshops; Norris Center for Natural History for the necklace specimens and funding; Savannah Hunter for jewelry collaboration; and the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute and OpenLab for funding support!