About This Project

Land & Water

Public Field Guide is an artist-led project that elevates stories about public land, water, and our relationship to the earth and each other. It emphasizes how natural areas connect to greater regions

The Journey

In 2019, prints will be exhibited in galleries and nature centers. Artist-designed books will feature drawings and stories about ecologically significant natural areas in the Midwest. A personal narrative about the journey across plains and prairie illustrates my own reverent, playful, and sometimes mystical relationship with nature. Occasional intersections with my pioneering ancestors exemplify how land and people impact each other, and how narrative and history shift, depending on each person’s context in culture and time.

The drawings are neutral conversation starters and tools for finding common ground. The stories emphasize the unique of qualities of each place, respect for nature, humans, and cultural diversity, self-restoration, power cycles, lesser told historical accounts, and cited articles. This layered approach to story mirrors our precarious balance in the protection and stewardship of land and water. It underscores the personal and intimate connections each of us has to land.

An Invitation

The project is an invitation to become conscious of cycles between land, people, and power. It recognizes that an inherently complicated infrastructure contributes to widespread irresponsible natural resource harvesting. It is an invitation to bring heart-centered, clear thinking to the urgency many are feeling to protect the land and water we all need in order to survive. It’s a call to work together toward better legacies without becoming comprehensively content, exhausted, or resentful.

At the same time, it embraces the in-between-ness of our reality, the undefined spaces that terrify and polarize us. It acknowledges that by becoming aware we surrender to living in a state of disorientation, untangling the musts and the maybes of reality; that magic, science, loss, devastation, hope, and the unknown simultaneously exist.

— Karen Kopacz

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