Moonville was a small coal-mining town in southeastern Ohio. It built along the tracks of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad in the middle of the least populated and most densely forested county in Ohio. The town was abandoned in 1947, and the trains stopped running in the 80s. While living in south eastern Ohio, I often drove out a long, winding gravel road and hiked the overgrown trails to Moonville. Tilted electric poles and an enormous train tunnel cutting through a hill are the only traces of the ghost town. At the time I was reading Mapping the Invisible Landscape by Kent C. Ryden, who writes about the ethereal features of landscape that shape our experience of physical place. He talks about unique cognitive maps created by people’s minds that develop into our personal reality. Influenced by Ryden’s writing, I began to create illustrations of the narratives my mind found in the landscape of Appalachian Ohio.
While working for a small papermaking studio I experimented with paper pulp. I dreamt about airy layers of overlapping pastel colors flowing over mountains and towns exposing the “invisible landscape.” Wanting to capture these dreams, I screen printed my photographs and those of a fellow Appalachian enthusiast, Jacob Koestler, on pulp paintings made from plants local to the places we photographed. By using fiber that was sourced locally, I created a physical connection to the narrative in each piece.
I continued this project at Women’s Studio Workshop in upstate New York, where I snow shoed in the Catskills photographing castle-like mansions. The shapes created by snow and ice reminded me of human body parts, which made me think of the ideas of Future Feminists, an artist group from New York City. They view the Earth as a mother, and the human body as extension of landscape.
"It's a very indigenous idea that the Earth is a female, that the Earth menstruates, that the water of the world is the blood of a woman's body and that's what we crawled out of just in the same way that we crawled out of our mother's wombs." -Anohni
Since then, I worked at the Center for Book and Paper Arts in Chicago, and the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland. The quickly changing neighborhoods of these cities forced me to focus on urban issues of gun violence and gentrification.
Studio support for this project was provided by The Morgan Conservatory, Zygote Press, Women’s Studio Workshop,
and Columbia College Chicago Center for Book, Paper and Print and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.