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Erica Fielder "The Gesture Of Return", cleaning and redistributing salmon bones since 1997.

Erica Fielder

In 1973 I began searching for a bridge to spiritually connect art making with community work as a social and environmental activist. Over the years this search has evolved into an ongoing endeavor to use art as a means to explore our cultural interface with nature, investigate the meaning of watersheds, and sustain an environmentally ethical lifestyle. With an ever deepening sense of place in my own home watershed, I concluded that our environmental problems are about relationship.

Thus, I began to explore artistic ways to introduce adults and children to a renewed alliance with their local watersheds, be it an inner city or rural area. Vital to this relationship is a sense of empathy and compassion for a myriad of complex systems, curiosity about a watershed's social and political history, a knowledge of the location of its headwaters and final destination, and a claim to membership in ones home ecosystem.

The central question within these realms is how can I, as an artist, encourage a cultural shift to ecologically ethical behavior and nourish integrated relationships with the wild blue-green Earth?

We give very little back for all we take from the Earth. I created "Gestures Of Return"[shown], as symbolic ways to return something to our watershed; acknowledge that we do live in and depend on an ecosystem; and to begin to return spirit to our relationship with the wild. For ten thousand years many indigenous groups living around the North Pacific Rim, from what is now California to Japan and Korea, returned salmon bones to the rivers to insure that the fish would come back the next year healthy and whole. And the fish did, by the millions.

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