Mary Yaeger’s female merit badges helped me find the new direction I wanted to go in with my work. I am interested in how Yeager reframed the traditional boy scout merit badges through a feminist lens. Her merit badges depict female “rites of passage” and the manipulations females undergo in an effort to achieve an idealized beauty. Her work led me to create my own spin off of the national park patches and to create patches that show the negative effects of overcrowding of our national parks.
While the official national park patches celebrate the parks, mine show how too many park visitors are damaging to these beautiful parks. Unlike most patches that serve as merits, mine are demerits. Instead of an accomplishment, each one symbolizes a human failure to protect the places that we intended to protect.
When creating my work, I reflect on how national parks face many threats, of which humankind is most imminent. Right now, new plans to open areas near Rocky Mountain National Park to oil and gas drilling is threatening the air quality of the park. Rocky Mountain National Park is the third most visited national park with a record 4.67 million visits in 2019[i]. Oil and gas production has already polluted the air at Rocky Mountain National Park and we cannot afford to make the air any unhealthier. Air pollution of natural areas is a problem of increasing importance in today’s world. We depend on open spaces to provide a safe place where people can exercise, connect with nature and enjoy a peaceful respite from our ever-changing and often stressful lives. Please join me in writing Colorado Governor Jared Polis to urge him to oppose any new oil and gas production near Rocky Mountain National Park. For more information, please visit https://www.npca.org/advocacy/91-air-pollution-in-colorado-our-lives-and-parks-at-risk
Image credit: Demerit Badges | Clockwise from top left: Traffic Jam, Noise pollution, Off Trail, and Tree Carving, 2019 | Embroidery floss on fabric
[i] National Park Service, (2020, February 27). National Park Visitation Tops 327 Million in 2019. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/2019-visitation-numbers.htm