Witness

2008 |Witness was an installation in Atlanta’s oldest park, Grant Park, which is on the site of a civil war battleground. Designed by the Olmstead family, Grant Park is a well-used, treasured, shady respite from the bustle and grime of the larger city. The park’s landscape, meandering paths, towering trees, and relic cannons and stonework speak to its 19th century creation as a utopian escape. A walk through Grant Park is a walk through innumerable layers of history, experience, and nature. 

Over a period of weeks, I gleaned facts, impressions, opinions, and details from newspaper clippings, history center archives, Cyclorama visitor logs, oral histories, neighborhood leaders, and the local Audubon Society. I superimposed historical facts, anecdotes, natural history information, and park user experiences through time on a numbering system designed to catalog trees throughout the park. 

With a series of signs and a map detailing their walk through the park, viewers encountered personal, historical, or ecological information about the park and were asked to “consider” a nearby tree because, in many ways, the trees are central to the park’s character and bear best witness to the passing of time.