When you see or hear about the Ogallala Aquifer naturally water is the first thing to come to mind, but have you ever stopped to think about the beauty and intricate detail of the Ogallala? We talked to two artists, Jess Benjamin and Kathryn Clark, about not only their pieces of art showing the Ogallala but its importance.
Jess Benjamin a ceramicist in Omaha, Nebraska who uses objects to explain water levels to her audiences. Growing up around the agriculture industry in Nebraska, Benjamin was inspired to created her Ogallala Aquifer collection by a conversation with her father after the family’s cattle were being removed from pasture due to a severe drought in 2007. This conversation alerted her of the lack of water in her state and inspired her. The pieces below created by Benjamin are made completely of ceramic clay and stains made by the artist herself. Benjamin uses clay as her primary medium, but found the idea of clay for this subject due to its origin straight from earth to only add to the pieces. Understanding the urban disconnect Benjamin purposely made the pieces loose and abstract drawing from map style designs in order for her audiences to be interested in learning more about the aquifer.
Textile artist Kathryn Clark also found the Ogallala to be an interesting subject. Clark grew up in Florida but now resides in San Francisco. After becoming curious about water depletion due to the ongoing California drought Clark discovered how important the Ogallala is to our food supply. In her four piece of 6 by 6 inch textile pieces made of fabric and hand dyed with indigo by Clark she gives us a visual representation of the aquifer’s depletion. She added tiny dots stemming from the aquifer to represent s the irrigation circles she observed while flying over the region.
Both artists seek to educate their audiences on the importance of water conservation and start the important conversation about the Ogallala Aquifer. Jess Benjamin is planning on continuing to create pieces about the Ogallala, but in the meantime you can be found her current ones at her gallery in Omaha or on her website. Kathryn Clark’s textile piece now resides in a private home in Texas, but more of her work can be found on her website.