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Rob Evans p5

Rob Evans talks about how the Susquehanna Valley has changed over the years,  sometimes in maybe unexpected ways…

READERSVOICE.COM: You curated an exhibition, Drawing on the Susquehanna, with some fascinating pictures, some created in the 1700s and 1800s. I was wondering if those locations had changed beyond recognition since those artists sketched there.

ROB EVANS: In pulling together that exhibit I was amazed to discover and purchase a number of very early images of the Susquehanna Valley depicting the ridge here where our family farm is located. Aside from the ebb and flow of various industries visible along the river, as well as the eventual construction of various bridges across the river, I was quite surprised to see how very little had changed over the course of two centuries. Interestingly, the landscape along much of the river in the 19th century was far more industrialized and developed, the booming iron furnaces, canals, coal mining and timber industries once dominating its shores now all vanished and reclaimed by protected forests along significant stretches of its watershed. Still, industry remains a threat – power plants, chemical pesticide runoff from farms, fracking, etc. all continue to endanger the fragile ecosystem here.

RV: Your picture Migration depicts birds continuing flight paths that have probably been going on for thousands of years. Like many of your pictures, Migration also contrasts the manmade elements, with a bridge over the Susquehanna River and smoke. Do you see the manmade element as a part of the natural landscape, albeit a somewhat out of balance and destructive part of nature?

RE: You have nailed it with your interpretation of this painting – that contrast is precisely what I was after. The timeless flow of the river and bird migrations running countercurrent to the man-made direction of the bridge and highway. I see the two as being now intertwined and yet at times counter-productive. We are part of the natural landscape, but, unlike the other species that inhabit it, we have exploited it, endangering our own existence as well as the survival of many of those species that share it with us. We have worked hard to save it from ourselves and to preserve what’s left – but only time will tell if our efforts will be enough. The river, rocks and some flora and fauna will likely all survive over time, as they have continued to do for millennia, but many others, like the flocks of migrating birds, and ultimately humankind, may not.

-see robevansart.org

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