Love Letters is an interdisciplinary project about endangered species, material susceptibilities and loss. Beginning with line drawings of fourteen Extinct in the Wild or Critically Endangered species, their outlines are then stitched with vanishing thread on linen panels. A love letter to each pictured species is written below with non-permanent ink made from chlorophyll. Images and words are then subjected to atmospheric elements, to water and light, precipitating their deterioration.
The project was conceived of in response to the weakening of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the 2016-20 United States government administration. Signed into law in 1973, the ESA represents our national commitment to protect the most susceptible of the earth’s flora and fauna. Revisions by that administration prevented regulators from considering the effects of climate change, while requiring that economic impacts on oil, coal and other polluting industries be factored into existing or new protections for vulnerable wildlife.
Love Letters presents a synthesis of representational imagery, material phenomena and text. Its subjects, species on the verge of extinction, are easily discernible, while the materials used for their depictions and inscriptions disintegrate in reference to their fragile states.
Love Letter, Staghorn Coral (before)
vanishing thread on linen, rice paper chlorophyll ink, mourning pins
According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, there are now more than 41,000 endangered species throughout the world; 7000 of them, critically so. Seven of the fourteen selected species range within the United States and its immediate surroundings, in reference to the US government's alternating commitment to the ESA. Additional selections are spread out across the globe. All groups: mammals, birds, fish, insects, plants and trees, are included. The conservation status of each one is either Critically Endangered or Extinct in the Wild.
Images of the fourteen Love Letters can be accessed by clicking a species name above. Species pages include diptychs of the original embroidered linen panel with its handwritten ode, juxtaposed with its disintegrated version. Each page indicates the conservation status, scientific name and geographical range of its pictured species. After viewing any one selection, you can use the Back button at the bottom right of each species page to return to this introductory page, and then click on any other species name you wish to see. Alternatively, use the Next button on the bottom right of each species page to move from one species to the next. The 14-page sequence begins with Franklin's Bumblebee and ends with the Mexican Grey Wolf.
Lastly, for Research Notes and a comprehensive source materials, click HERE.
*This project has been created with the generous support of a Research and Creativity Award from Sacramento State University