It’s Not Easy Seeing Green

Turning Point Elementary, Culver City, CA

Wetland 35mm photographs by grade levels 2-8

It’s Not Easy, 2:00 min excerpt from 36:26 minute digital video from 35mm scans, classroom and field recordings, 2017- 2018.

Come here exotic coyote, more salt bushes let out wind.

It’s up crane go same to food-chain.

After lost European settlers.

Sea-level rise. Rough grass. Always close to Culver City.

Sanctuary, if you go under growing milkvetch.

Red-fox dragonfly, who within space?

In 2017 I was invited to Turning Point Elementary in Culver City, CA to connect students to Los Angeles’ last remaining wetland using art. This was an ambitious project: it involved 300 students, two non-profits, four field trips, and two art installations that synthesized video, photography, poetry, plant material, handmade books, and botanical rubbings.

Students wrote poems using the punk/surrealist cut-up method—wetland words were xeroxed, then cut up and reassembled. The poems click like nonlinear legos, glued to the insides of accordion books. We then brought these poems into the wetland where the Ballona watershed becomes a brackish confluence of past and present, fresh water and salt water, pickleweed and egrets, high-rise condos and parking lots. Here, students used their poems like storyboards, shooting with disposable 35mm cameras to represent each page of their poem. The final installation collected student voices and photographs into a single-channel video poem about the Ballona wetland.

It’s Not Easy Seeing Green was made with the support and collaboration of the Turning Point School’s Artist in Residence program, Rory Sloan, and Friends of Ballona Wetlands.