Red Alder Root - Listening to the Forest - Leah Wilson

Leah Wilson

Leah Wilson is a place-specific visual artist and writer. Her artwork is informed by rigorous physical engagement with the environment, keen observation, and a curiosity toward scientific ecological research.

Artist Statement

I create place-specific artwork shaped by observing subtle environmental rhythms and oscillations over time. My artwork develops through a process of seeking around the edges where science drops its threads of inquiry, yielding, and opening a space for me to pick up threads to play with it. Both my process and finished artwork reflect an engagement with ecological relationships through imagination, observation, data, science, and physical interaction. Stories of connection, natural flow and rhythms, and wonder are interwoven throughout my art.

My process requires a commitment of extended time with natural ecosystems and frequently includes places that are dedicated to the pursuit of increasing ecological scientific knowledge. A fundamental underlying objective to create place-specific artwork is to develop a sense of belonging and personal connection to the environment that evolves and deepens over time. Some of the questions I continue to ask are:

By increasing my understanding this place, can I also simultaneously see, utilize, and know it in a different way, in a way that my presence and process as an artist can initiate and eventually establish connection, knowing, and belonging? Can my development of a visual language, methods of discovery, and creative process fit alongside the language and methods of science in a meaningful way? What is the personal effect of consciously setting out to develop a deep connection and relationship with this place, and can it inspire others to ameliorate the disconnection they may feel from their own environments? How would that, in turn, affect the places that others have come to know?

Answers are revealed slowly, if at all, and most often searching for answers only leads to more questions. Connections are likely found within ephemeral experiences. Often my process of coming to know and building relationships with places can feel like attempting to collect the evanescence. However, continuing the seemingly futile attempt to collect what cannot be held focuses my attention and increases clarity. Continuing this process opens a space for deeper investigation to notice what the environment reveals within its unfolding layers. Through an intentional persistent and cyclical process of asking, noticing, collecting, creating, and reflecting, connections are made, my relationship with the ecological communities deepens and shapes me, and my art evolves.

Webinars, Lectures & Artist Talks

Video Archive

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Video: Collaborating with Time

Video: Collaborating with Time

In conjunction with the October 2021 exhibition at The Arts Center in Corvallis entitled What Will Nature Do? I spoke about collaborating with time in my creative process. Hydrologist Steve Wondzell joined me on April 20, 2021 to provide his perspective of my art from a scientist’s point of view.

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