ecological zone

Inspired by Myst and No Man’s Sky, I came up with a really cool open-ended prompt for the pre-bedtime group discussion: if you had absolute creative control over designing a planet, what are some of the features would it have?

I gave them a full minute to silently think about it before answering. One camper went into elaborate detail about the binary star system his planet would orbit, the particular physics of its many moons, and the breadth and variety of cultures that work develop in its different ecological zones. Another described a planet like Waterworld, upon which several different species of marine animals had developed higher intelligence and built underwater cities. One kid wanted a planet made entirely out of gummy candies and kittens, and gummy candy kittens. Everybody listened to and fed off of each other’s answers - it was extremely successful and they were all eager to keep discussing it even when I declared that it was lights out.

Not so for Nosferatu. His imaginary planet? “It would be exactly the same as this one, except I would be the supreme ruler and anyone who disagreed with me, I could send to a dungeon in the center of the planet until their families forgot about them. The end.” He later added that his planet would also have an island populated by dinosaurs, and anyone banished there would have to survive their attacks.


My finished thesis - CASCADIA: Life in the Upper Left. Stay tuned for some individual posts with descriptions and detail shots of each of these four pieces. 

The Pacific Northwest has been a source of endless fascination for me. It has influenced and inspired much of my work as a student and continues to unveil connections and curiosities that keep me returning to the subject again and again. I am constantly humbled by all that is not human and inspired by the endless connections that exist within nature, both seen and unseen; some felt, others simply understood.  

This respect and adoration for the Pacific Northwest is what inspired me to create Cascadia: Life in the Upper Left. This collection illustrates the biodiversity of the four distinct ecological zones (high desert, sub-alpine/alpine, temperate rainforest, and coastal)  found between Oregon, Washington, Western British Columbia, and Southeast Alaska.  

Each illustration provides information on a single zone that is found in different areas across the span of the Pacific Northwest; it was important for me to illustrate the defining common elements of each zone, while still portraying the differences that may be found within the zones as they exist in different areas.  I want the viewer to be able to look at each piece as a cohesive narrative and at the same time, find many individual narratives within each piece.

Overall, my hope is that all four pieces be seen and understood together as a collective ecological portrait.