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their budding archive. They did their best to repho- tograph from the same vantage points (although “we often found public land now in private hands,” re- ports Kellogg, “and a few owners refused us access to shoot photos”), and they’ve now posted 18 photo pairings with GPS points and commentary. One turn-of-the-century view shows a grist mill along a narrow dirt lane winding under arched trees, while its 2010 counterpart is dominated by a wide, straight, asphalt street with driveways along both sides. Another shot, of a paper-bag mill on a rocky stream, is paired with today’s thick curtain of trees lining the rapids; the mill, destroyed in the 1970s, has left behind only a stone wall barely visible under the reforestation.

For Liu-Sontag, the project “is about more than environmental views of land. It’s about understand- ing change.” An environmental-studies major, he in- terned last summer with an environmental photo - grapher in Lake Tahoe, thanks to a National Science Foundation grant for undergrads, and in March he gave a presentation on rephotography for the National Council for Undergraduate Research. In the Saratoga project, he was interested to find that “the Industrial Revolution sprang up quickly, and some of its manifestations didn’t last long—like the old mills we saw rapidly overgrown.” These then and now pictures, he says, highlight “the difference between place and space. Place is the meaning of a space to the people who use it.” And images, more than text, he says, “are a powerful way to help people understand and internalize the ways that hu- mans affect the landscape.” Artist Diane Burko ’66 couldn’t agree more.


Understories Logging is one of humanity’s oldest activities and, in recent

years, a controversial one. It has changed the landscape in ways large and small, affecting wildlife, erosion, air moisture and carbon dioxide content, and more. Yet as long as demand for wood and paper continues, so will logging—and with it the need to better understand the relationship between trees, other plants, land, and water.

She’s been basing her paintings on landscape photos for decades, and especially on old and new aerial shots of glaciers for the past five years. Her Politics of Snow exhibition in Phila - delphia inspired Ian Berry, the Malloy Curator at Skidmore’s Tang Museum, and he put her in touch with Kellogg and Liu-Sontag. This spring the Tang displayed a selection of their photo pairings along with a large Burko diptych—a bold, stylized “repainting” of aerial photographs over a glacier in Montana. Burko started as an abstract painter at Skidmore, and her works are “still about line and form and color,” she explains, “but are recognizable as landscapes when you step back and view them at a distance.” Having read up on climate change and worked with the US Geological Survey and other re- searchers to borrow, and shoot her own, photos from helicop- ters, Burko says, “I hope my art can contribute to the conver- sation—a very important conversation.” Against the verbiage of policy statements and lobbyists’ talking points, Burko offers clear and beautiful visuals. She asserts, “Art can play a power- ful role. Maybe my work can help light someone’s fire about this issue.”


Skidmore environmental scientist Josh Ness, who had previ- ously studied the effects of human land use on certain spring-blooming woodland plants, wanted to explore how those plants affect the transfer of nutrients to streams. Ness turned to the 2,500-acre Merck Forest and Farmland Center in Vermont, which has hosted Skid- more students in numerous environmental- studies field trips and pre-orientation camping expeditions. Armed with a grant from Skid-

more’s Responsible Citizenship Task Force, Ness and a dozen students undertook a two-week survey in the Merck woods, charting plants known to occur less often in land that has been logged and studying their effect on nearby streams. Ness ex- plains that nutrients in fallen leaves are washed from the forest by streams in the springtime, which affects both the future productivity of the soil and the chemistry of the water—what’s good for the soil isn’t necessarily good for aquatic creatures. Some of the students had never done science in the field be- fore. “I don’t think I could have asked for a much better first re- search experience,” says Andrea Conine ’13. She and her cohorts walked through miles of forest land and stream banks to quantify the density of target species, collected water samples, and later used GIS to map the plant communities against the post-logging history and tree population of the areas studied.

g SPRING 2011 SCOPE 13



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