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  • Writer's pictureAmy Felder


I integrate art with geography. Mimicking cartographers, I create maps to correspond with each demerit badge. To illustrate how going off trail causes erosion, I painted a topographical map of Devil's Backbone, the park's marked trails, and my imagined human created off shoots from those trails. I chose burlap as the structure material because it is similar to erosion control blankets that are used to prevent erosion on hillsides. I chose a neutral color for the topographical lines to show that they are natural, green for the trail to show that staying on the trail is environmentally friendly, and red for the footpaths that go off trail to show the earth bleeding from the human impact. Next, I painted another topographical map without any trails to show the park without human presence. The white represents the earth in its pure, virgin state before humankind tainted it. The topographical lines are green to show how the earth was a paradise, flourishing without human presence. 

I cut each map into strips that shrank in size as I went from one end to the next and arranged them together into one elongated map, alternating strips between each map.

I used twine to weave the two maps together. The bottom starts with a wide strip of the map untouched by humans. I followed it with a very tightly woven tiny strip of the burlap map. It is barely visible to show how when one person goes off trail the mark is barely visible. As I progressed upward, the strips of map without human presence gradually shrink in size and get woven more, becoming less visible. Meanwhile, the strips of map with human presence get wider and more visible. 

The weaving is very loosely woven and looks as though it may fall apart at any given moment just like an erosion control blanket.

Image Credit: Erosion, 2019 | Fabric paint on fabric with twine | 41x11 inches

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