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" exercise in referencing places as coexistent - calling upon experience and memory as connective tissue..."

May 2020 


4. Idaho: Portneuf,

42°37'14.9"N 112°00'23.3"W


6. Nevada: Carson River,

39°14'12.2"N 119°35'16.2"W


5. Idaho: Almo Pluton,

42° 04’ 12” N 113° 42’ 45” W

Six locations on the overland emigrant trail are referenced in this sequence of miniatures each studies a specific landscape as a primary source. The emphasized verticality pays attention to the sense of precision that might be implied in conventional mapping, where locations are understood through defining a series of triangulation points, in digital representations places are located by a data set or ping. These accepted ideas of linear mapping fail to produce experiential connections, ways of being. Experiences are separated like the location by linear temporal framework.

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"The past and future merge to meet us here..."



Chicago from Illinois State Beach Park. 2020.

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"The mythology and experience of westward travel and the overland panoramas, have played their part in securing an American sense of landscape and heritage

Remote Viewing draft,"

August 2020.


This paper opens an investigation into the relationships between the panorama narratives of colonial America and the subsequent development of American landscape narratives and tourism. In guide books, maps and settler diaries of the 1840’s and 50’s a long list of landscape features are described alongside narratives of encounters with plains ‘Indians’. A number of locations appear to receive greater attention than others, and two sites in particular along the Platte River stand out, a group of Pawnee earth lodges and a Sioux funeral site.


These locations are featured prominently in James Wilkins’ 1849 drawings and travel journal, and evidence suggests that they appear to have been included in his panorama narrative too. The Immense Moving Mirror of the Land Route To California has perished but in Wilkins diary his accounts are vivid. Amongst other sources the same locations are prominent too: both places are noted on maps from before and after that time and are reflected also in many journal accounts. The representation of pre-colonial life on the plains appears to have been anticipated by audiences as part of panorama presentations, building towards narratives of manifest destiny. The mythology and experience of westward travel and the overland panoramas, have played their part in securing an American sense of landscape and heritage.

International Panorama Council Journal #29.- 2020

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American Theatre Ensembles Volume 1

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As an extended orientation to the work of Goat Island, this chapter offers an

initial narrative outline of the grounds and the overall tone of the company’s

approaches. it includes a narrative description of their performances and a reflection on the closing of the company and the context of its legacy.

The chapter describes the particular setting of Chicago as a component in the working life of Goat Island while the book situates the company against a national political, economic, and broadly cultural setting that also takes into account the growth of ensemble theatre in the United States after the 1970's.  

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"Viewing Goat Island through its archive required a slowing down and paying attention to the sources from which the performances grew. A large proportion of these sources are in the archive but the main artifacts--the nine performances-- are not." (Theatre Volume 50 Number 2, p23.)

"The missing performances of Goat Island might then be in evidence though the materials that produced them and their residues – the archive. And, an ‘extension of gesture’ might be facilitated by gathering responses from the performances as echoes – by inviting those who performed or witnessed the event to describe or reproduce it. However this turns out, the ‘described’ or ‘reproduced’ material are still not the original event: they are responses to it." (Theatre Volume 50 Number 2, p23.) 


Theatre Volume 50 Number 2, features four essays reflecting on the processes that led to the 2019 exhibition - Goat Island Archive - we have discovered the performance by making it. Including invited essays from Nicholas Lowe, Discovering the Performance by Curating it: Performing Goat Island's Archive; Mark Jeffery (Nine New Fields: Notes on Goat Island and IN>TIME 2019; Erin Manning, How So We Repair?; and Stephen Scott-Bottoms, How Do We Proceed? Thinking with Goat Islands Archive."

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"Like lived experiences of all kinds the event becomes a memory. In this remembered form the work of Goat Island continues to exist in the bodies of those who performed it and in the memory of those who saw it."

Notes December 2018 


goat island archive - we have discovered the performance by making it.

Chicago Cultural Center 2019

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The invitation from the Cultural Center to prepare this exhibition was preceded for many of those involved by a prior experience of Goat Island. While working with the archive in recent years, I had always been sure that the best way to present Goat Island in retrospective was to in some way draw upon my own experiences of seeing and studying their work. To present a series of extensions of goat island as if it were an object, perhaps as a many sleeved garment. The company always advanced its work with a spirit of invited response and generosity and when it came to me to develop this project the invitation was no less clear. An exhibition would need to be produced, like Goat Island itself had been produced, through facilitation and collaboration, through making space for thoughtful reflections and creative responses, through activations and embodiment, through inclusion and always offered in generosity.

Exhibition Introduction, January 2019

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Wilkins's journal coupled with the remaining watercolor studies offer a rich cultural and social record, a rare glimpse of the landscapes west of the Mississippi at a crucial moment of change".

Notes, August 2019 


In 1849 little known artist James Wilkins traveled the Overland Trail from St Louis Missouri to Hang Town (now Placerville in present day California) to record and collect landscape details as studies from which he produced a scroll panorama, The Grand Moving Mirror of the Overland Trail. The panorama has long since disappeared but a journal and 50 watercolor drawings survive alongside 13 paintings and an assortment of archival ephemera. Inspired by Wilkin’s journey I chose to retrace his route in the Fall of 2017. in the Fall of 2017. I recorded the experience in watercolor, photography and video as a method for understanding the panorama’s contemporary resonances as an historical document. This essay reflects on the residues of Wilkins’s journey alongside contemporary observations from the same landscapes.

International Panorama Council Journal #28.- 2019

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“Like modern movies, panoramas provided for the hoards who saw them vicarious experiences of travel and adventure”


Bertha L. Heilbron, “Documentary Panorama,” Minnesota History 30, no. 1 (March 1949): 14. 


Sixteen Frames – a moving mirror of the overland trail. Park Valley, near Kelton, UT. 84329. Nicholas Lowe, 2018.

Sixteen Frames - a moving mirror of the overland trail is part of a series of studies inspired by the landscape painting by the little known artist James Wilkins. In 1849 Wilkins traveled the Overland Trail from St Louis Missouri to Hang Town (now Placerville in present day California) to record and collect landscape details for his scroll panorama, The Grand Moving Mirror of the Overland Trail.

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"Just as the spatial scales limit our ability to comprehend the prairie, so do the periods of time involved in its origin..."


Konza Prairie a tallgrass natural history. University of Kansas Press 1987.


Konza Prairie Biological  Station, July 2018

Pencil and watercolor drawings completed during a short residency at the Konza Prairie Biological Station as a guest of the Prairie Studies Initiative of Kansas State University 

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“There is good reading on the land, first-hand reading, involving no symbols.  –  The records are written in the forests, in the fence-rows, in bogs, in play-grounds, in pastures, in gardens, in canyons, in tree rings.”

May Theilgaard Watts, Reading the Landscape. 1957.


7. Devils Gate, Wyoming. Slip Cast Ceramic with glaze and frit. 2018

Castle Rocks State Park, Idaho Sunday, October 8th 2017. Watercolor on 300g canson paper.

In Fall 2017 and 2018 while on a sabbatical I undertook two extended land journeys across North America between Chicago and Los Angeles. The journeys were organized to retrace the 1849 journey recorded by James Wilkins. This little known english artist traveled on the Overland Trail from St Louis Missouri to Hang Town (now Placerville in present day California) recording his experiences in a journal while also making around two hundred and fifty watercolor drawings. Collecting visual details of the landscapes he encountered in around 250 watercolors. His aim was to capture visual details of the landscapes he encountered to then make a scroll panorama, The Grand Moving Mirror of the Overland Trail. The Panorama has long since perished but fifty of the watercolors and the journal have survived.


Over an initial six-week period in the Fall of 2017 and then over four weeks in Spring 2018 I traveled the same route while recording details through a series of observational watercolor drawings, digital video and photographs. These plein-air studies were augmented with archival research along the journey in archives and museum collections relating to great westward migration of the 1840's and 1850's. Information gleaned from diaries and first-hand accounts of life on the trail alongside observations of details in the present day landscape revealed details which informed ceramic object making experiments as a resident of the Arts/Industry program of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in January and February 2018.

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In 2016, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) reached its 150th year. What sustains an institution is sometimes extraordinary, sometimes mundane, and often simply a matter of the sheer will of those involved. An unparalleled museum school, SAIC embodies something greater than the individuals who have passed through it, and yet it has also depended upon the unique and special nature of its protagonists—its founders who survived the Great Chicago Fire and rebuilt the school, a president who cast the hands and face of Abraham Lincoln, an alumna who was a celebrated illustrator and an activist in the women's suffrage movement, the creators of monumental sculptures throughout the country, and numerous scholars of art history and technique—to challenge and shape its form. The school's history is punctuated by marvelous moments of heightened public discourse in art making and scholarship. This book represents a glimpse into the lives of generations of students, staff, and faculty as full participants in an astounding learning environment.

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By such reconnaissance we tried to describe the

geographic pattern of

human activity and interpret its meaningful assemblage, and began to

ask how the things seen

came to be together.

Carl O. Sauer,

The Fourth Dimension of Geography. Annals of the Association of American Geography.

June, 1974, Vol 64, No.2 


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Lake Michigan Zion Nuclear Power Station. 2015. Watercolor on paper

Dead River Outlet, Farnum Point. 2015. Watercolor on Paper.

The Zion Nuclear Power station is located approximately half way between Chicago and Milwaukee built in 1973 it was in operation until 1997. Following a ten year decommissioning process the main structures were demolished between 2017 and 2018. Over three summers from 2015 I completed a series of observational watercolors and pencil drawings while photographing and observing the site. The site sits incongruously in the middle of the Chiwaukee Illinois Beach Lake Plain, a significant and threatened coastal dune and swale ecosystem, two endangered species are recognized in the area, the Piping Plover and the eastern prairie fringed orchid.

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The past will present itself as the archive is compiled

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