Deborah Springstead Ford
Archival pigment photograph
8″ x 24″ x 2″ ©2021. $225
Contact artist to purchase.
For many years I photographed in and around the Powder River Basin in north central Wyoming, a stunning landscape where energy exploration expanded exponentially. Mining, drilling, hydraulic fracturing and transportation of energy resources took a huge toll on the natural environment, destroying habitat for a great number of species, leaving unsightly scars and detritus while contaminating ground water reserves. But currently, we are a society dependent upon fossil fuels. If our western habitats are to survive massive industrial development of energy resources, warming temperatures, pollution, and livestock grazing then we must begin to embrace our true responsibilities.
The lack of recognition that we are a part of nature, not separate from it is a core problem to our understanding the sustainability of our practices and the repercussions of our actions on other life forms and processes. It seems imperative that we begin to recognize our roles in the solutions as well as in the problems.
Research has revealed that these microorganisms (thermophiles and extremeophiles) are some of the world’s oldest life forms and that the sulfuric pools where they exist may resemble early Earth. And while these microbes thrive in extreme environments such as Yellowstone, they may hold answers to life forms to be found in other extreme habitats on nearby planets and moons.
It is my hope that exposure to these works will expand public knowledge and awareness of the following, (1) unique relationships between arts and science, (2) the precious place of Yellowstone National Park and surrounding landscape, (3) inform different audiences of the significance of microbes in research, as well as the importance to conserve the extreme habitats of these life forms which may hold answers for our future, in finding cures for disease, climate change mitigation and beyond. All of this begins with the aesthetic experience, which is my access point to scientific knowledge.