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 and treasured, shady respite from the bustle and grime of the larger city.  The park’s landscape, meandering paths, towering trees, and relic canons 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 since, in many ways, the trees are central to the park’s character and bear best witness to the passing of time therein.