About This Project

Our Land & Water

The Call to Nature and It’s Ineffable Draw to Journey to American Landmarks

At any age, no matter our ancestral origin, it is a right of passage to explore the mythological and historical grooves made by our predecessors across famous routes, roads, and trails. When we participate in the story of land, we evince the weaving of folklore, natural history, introspection and spiritual vision. We road trip to discover, to retreat, to learn, unlearn, to become open, to bond, to find ourselves, to encounter something larger than us. It is ours to receive in the way that befits each of us.

Public Field Guide is an artist-led project exploring the many layers of value that public land offers to its communities. The project aligns with the heart, elevates the expansive beauty of land, and honors the distinctive importance of specific areas, and communities that have symbiosis with that land.

Artist and storyteller Karen Kopacz combines drawing, writing, photography and film to share her travel experiences and personal history, seeking to open hearts, cross barriers and connect others to the unique qualities of our natural world.

“I use art to diffuse fear that surrounds sustainability issues by emphasizing the beauty of ecologically and geologically important places that are environmentally at-risk. Writing stories to accompany a series of Midwest drawings prompted two solo camping road trips, totaling over 5000 miles. In 2016, I traveled through every Midwest state, visiting many of the places I had drawn, most for the first time. This quest to connect to nature became a pilgrimage in which I found myself in a buffalo stampede the morning I drove to Chimney Rock where my pioneer ancestors camped 156 years before. With my 2nd Great Grandmother’s journal in hand, I stood before this historic national monument, one mile south of Oregon Trail Road, pondering the land, all of it’s people, and the role we play in it’s stewardship or ruin. This project is not one thing. It is an ongoing journey to comprehend the past, the future, how we came to our present, and how we might dream a new dream to cultivate love and preservation.”

— Karen

Follow the story and look for Public Field Guide prints and events in 2017.
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