Springs have long been essential to human survival, yet today they are all but forgotten. Being an artist who is passionate about the water crisis in the West, I am drawn to their unseen story whose importance is misunderstood. They have become a bellwether for the region’s water scarcity.
In the past 7 years I’ve been photographing all types of springs in a variety of conditions in the Western drylands of the Chihuahuan, Sonoran, and Mojave deserts; the Great Basin; and the Colorado Plateau.
Art has a unique ability to translate science into a visual and universally understood language. The process of both artists and scientists is similar as seekers of revelations gathered through observation and experimentation.
When living on the Colorado Plateau, I noticed how a landscape of drought and groundwater overuse drains color out of the environment. Western landscape painter, Maynard Dixon’s unromanticized view of the West using a subtle palette and atmospheric light influenced my usage of toned-down color to emphasize their beauty and fragility.
Springs continue to hold vital clues to the health and longevity of the groundwater we depend upon, and their loss will threaten our ability to live in dry places. With so many almost or completely extinct, they are now one of the most highly endangered ecosystems worldwide.
By spotlighting these ecological landmarks before they are gone, I want this work to reflect their value and predicament while encouraging a call to action for their protection.
Benedict’s projects center on the role that landscape plays in the human experience – on unseen, ordinary places – what they reveal about our attitudes and relationship to the natural world and the potential consequences of what we choose to not to value. Her focus for the last six years has been on drought climate change and overuse of water in the arid landscapes in North America.
Benedict’s images are at Fidelity Art Boston; Center for Photography, Tucson; Florida Museum of Photographic Arts; New Mexico Museum of Art; Decordova Museum of Art and Sculpture; Harvard’s Fogg Museum; and George Eastman Museum. Solo exhibitions include Florida Museum of Photographic Arts; Griffin Museum of Photography at Stoneham; Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX; and Philadelphia Print Center. Hidden Waters archive resides in the Museum of Art & Environment, Reno Nevada; Benedict is a member of Blue Earth Alliance and the Long Now.
Awards include: CENTER Santa Fe- Project Launch Award, Juror’s Award, Karen Haas Juror, Conversations with the Land, Center for Fine Art Photography; Massachusetts Cultural Council Finalist; Critical Mass Top 200, 2019; the FENCE, New England; Legacy Award, Griffin Museum of Photography; two Puffin Foundation Grants; artist residencies: Museum of Northern Arizona, Joshua Tree Highlands Residency, Shoshone Artist Residency; solo exhibitions: Florida Museum of Photography, Griffin Museum of Photography – Stoneham, Hess Gallery, Texas Women’s University, and Philadelphia Print Center.