Earth Week: Becky Wilkes: Ditched
The bodies of work that I will be sharing during Earth Week are linked by this thematic lens: making the often-invisible nature of the global climate and the ecological crisis more visible using conceptual, lens-based art techniques. Each body of work speaks to a different aspect of the climate and ecological crisis: loss of place; waste; sea level rise, plastic pollution, industrial meat production, desertification, and fire. These bodies of work seek to uncover the hidden interdependence of both social and natural systems and challenge us to re-examine our relationships with each other and this planet. – Michael O. Snyder
Becky Wilkes lives with her husband on Eagle Mountain Lake in Azle, TX. Prior to being interrupted by the pandemic, her project, “Ditched”, which examines thousands of items of trash collected from the lakefront, was enjoying success in several solo shows, most notably in Lubbock, TX, Portland, OR and the Dallas, Fort Worth area. “Ditched” was featured in the 2021 Lishui Photography Festival, BETA developments in photography number 32 and was recognized in Photolucida’s 2019 Critical Mass Top 50. Ms. Wilkes loves to speak to groups about her project and the impact and variety of trash found “in the Ditch”.
“Ditched” explores the implications of our throwaway society through the examination of debris meticulously collected for one year during the drought of 2014 to 2015 from the shoreline of Eagle Mountain Lake, near Fort Worth, TX. Following in the footsteps of the archeologist, Augustus Rivers, who first insisted that all artifacts, not the just the beautiful or unique be collected and catalogued, I photographed every item found along one mile of newly exposed lakefront. These artifacts speak to me and I seek to understand their journeys and account for each of them.
With the abundant runoff of the Spring 2015 flooding, and subsequent barrage of debris filling my immediate landscape, I began to realize the migratory nature of trash in our waterways flowing from our drainage ditches and roadways. Eagle Mountain Lake, while only 14 square miles in size, is fed by a watershed of over 850 square miles. Unlike the trash entering our oceans, this debris is trapped inland, restrained by lakes and dams.
Individually, the collages reveal the variety, quantity and rate of disintegration of the materials contained in the lakefront. Collectively, they speak to our careless abandonment post gratification. Either by accidental or intentional action, we are being inundated on a massive scale by the individual fingerprints of personal choice. -Becky Wilkes
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