The black wolf returns

As someone who thinks of himself as a land artist, I don’t create images that are landscapes very often. Largely what I think about are how humans imprint themselves on land, and what effect this has on us and other species, and so I try to visually articulate that tension.

Wolves became extinct in Colorado (and other western states) in the 1940’s as part of U.S. federal and state efforts for the “destruction of such animals and such plant life that may be detrimental to us,” as articulated by the U.S. National Park Service in 1925.

Over the past decade, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has restored gray wolves into Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Arizona, and some observers believe it's only a matter of time before wolves start migrating into Colorado from the north and south.

I began the ‘black wolf returns’ series in 2017. It began from a conversation I had then with wildlife ecologist Carl Mackey at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, 11 miles from downtown Denver in Commerce City. I asked him if he thought the wolf's return was imminent to Colorado: he said, “yes, it’s already happening”. 

From that conversation I began to think about the animal corridors that crisscross western states, connecting them, and how wolves might return and what they might see and experience, from their point of view, rather than ours (ranchers, artists, environmentalists, politicians, etc)

black wolf series, the return part 4, acrylic on canvas, 24.5” x 24.5”, 2019

black wolf series, the return part 4, acrylic on canvas, 24.5” x 24.5”, 2019

More next month
Nicholas Emery
August 21st, 2019