I finally made it to the park!! A little background about what I'm doing this summer. At the beginning of last fall I reached out to a bunch of National Parks with known Artist in Residence programs sharing with them my National Park Trash Art Project and enthusiasm to help in any way I could. At that point my dream was to get involved in a park like Yosemite or Zion but I was up for anything and just wanted to get the word out there. A few weeks later, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park reached out to me saying they had a place for me to stay if I wanted to spend the summer in West Texas as an Arts in the Parks Volunteer. I had never been to Texas before and had never even heard to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park but I figured why not!
So here I am, 6 months later, driving to West Texas, not knowing exactly what I'm getting myself into. I was a little late getting to the park this past Thursday because I HAD to get DQ in New Mexico on the way and the line ended up being unreasonably long! I took 10 East for about 300 miles (yikes!). However, the last stretch of the journey was exciting to drive through because after driving hours on flat, hot, freeway I suddenly come upon this huge mountain range that I had seen only photos of! The view of El Capitan from the salt flats was absolutely stunning!
I came into this position excited for the opportunity to see a new landscape and see what working in a National Park was actually like but not really expecting to fall in love with the location. However, the first few days of working here I HAVE fallen in love in a way I never thought I could! (I GET it Georgia). The expanse of sky is unbelievably big, and every evening there are beautiful blooming clouds over the mountains, thunder and lightening over the plains, and the sound of coyotes howling in the distance. Plus, there are lush trees and natural springs sprinkled throughout the park! Who woulda thunk!? ALREADY I have seen a roadrunner literally run across the road, a wild turkey, witnessed a rattle snake swallowing a squirrel whole, painted next to a deer, and had to stop for a little when driving to wait for a cow to cross the road. TG no tarantulas yet though!
So far I have worked at the Frijole Ranch Cultural Museum in the park. My duties include opening the various historical sites, interacting with visitors on trails, and creating my own work! Starting next week I will be leading EcoArt workshops in the park for visitors on Saturdays. Feel free to swing by if you happen to be in the neighborhood lol! This coming week I am planning to create hand and footprint paintings with visitors and discuss the impact humans have on the environments we interact with (general idea pictured on right). In other words to depict our own individual "handprints" and/or "footprints" on the space.
I recently found out that the Guadalupe Mountains National Park does not have a recycling program due to the high costs and its remote location. However, there are falsely advertised recycling bins all throughout the park. I hope to gather as much of these recyclables as possible and find a way to involve the public in creating a large-scale art piece with these recyclable items that will otherwise go straight into a landfill. I just read http://media.subaru.com/pressrelease/1017/124/study-reveals-lack-awareness-waste-challenges-facing-u.s on ways you can reduce your own waste in National Parks and other protected areas!
Most of the trash I have collected so far in the park has been on Highway 62 that runs parallel to the park. My goal is to do a trash pickup down a stretch of the highway soon because often I drive past litter at 70MPH with a pickup truck or 18-wheeler tailing behind me (so I'm unable to abruptly stop). I have also noticed a lot of abandoned tire shards on the side of the highway and I want to do something productive with those too...
A lot of work to come, but all is well. PLEASE recycle/ consider doing something creative with trash and empty beer cans produced this 4th of July!!