The Witness Tree is a photography project documenting the effects of climate change around the world. (see www.TheWitnessTree.org for the full projecct website). I have so far photographed in nineteen US states, seventeen countries, and on every continent. From the melting ice of Antarctica to wild fires in Texas, I have targeted locations that represent a diversity of natural environments and cultures to demonstrate that this problem is indeed a global epidemic. As an artist deeply motivated by issues in the natural world, I draw attention to these precious and precarious environments some of which are already irrevocably altered. The damage may not always be visibly obvious, but all these locations, and the people who live in or near them, are being affected in numerous ways. These places not only bring us solace with their beauty but they also provide some of life’s basic necessities: water, food, and shelter.
I first began working on this project in 2010 after an artist’s residency in Iceland. I noted how much that country's glaciers had melted since my previous visit five years before. After many months of research, I began by photographing locations in the United States. In 2011-2012 during a sabbatical from my full-time teaching position I traveled continuously around the world to fourteen different countries documenting the devastating effects of the climate crisis. I met many remarkable people who were willing to share their stories with me. Although many of the landscapes I visited were beautiful, the stories were not: I heard tales of loss of life, property, and valuable natural resources. It was and continues to be a bittersweet journey.
I am continuing to work on this series and since 2012 have photographed several more locations in the US including New Orleans, Florida and New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. Last summer I was able to visit the Canadian Arctic and Greenland. My goal is to also visit locations in Alaska, Russia, Europe and the Mideast. Unfortunately, this issue is not going to go away anytime soon. I anticipate working on this project for several more years. I hope that through presentations and exhibitions of The Witness Tree that I can bring about greater awareness of the effects of climate change and that I can encourage others to get involved in the fight to reduce its effects on our world.