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Sitka Center for Art and Ecology
Foundation in science basis for art of Landa Townsend
News-Times, Newport Oregon
by Leslie O’Donnell
Landa Townsend Studied biochemistry in college and has bachelor’s and master’s degree in fine arts.
Those two areas of interest also describe her focus as an artist. “I’m one of those people who swing from art to science and back.” Said Townsend, wo is finishing a four-month residency at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology at Otis on May 22. She did AIDS research for five years, and has conceptualized and designed a bird habitat restoration garden at a public school but the art found in nature, and the concepts of science, are never far from whatever she is doing.
A native of Connecticut, Townsend now lives in San Francisco. During her residency at Sitka, she has been concentrating on serveal botanical projects, and completed an installation piece for SoundCulture in San Rafael.
Her botanical pieces are ephemeral in nature but striking nonetheless, and were inspired by the environment of Sitka itself.
“When I arrived at Sitka, there was snow on the ground,” she recalled. “I was just dying for the leaves to open on the trees, but because it was still so barren the seeds and cones were really visible. I started collecting Sitka Spruce and alder seeds, and I took alder leaves and made a mold of them.
From that mold, Townsend created “ice leaves”- she filled the leaf mold with water, added alder seeds, and put it in the freezer. The result was an ice leaf the actual size of an alder leaf.
Townsend, who had been enjoying walks along the stream bed in the back of her house at Sitka, decided the area needed more alder trees, and created an installation of her ice leaves along the stream bed.