Should art require an explanation? Perhaps sometimes. These may seem like odd photographs to convey “growth”. But for me they do, on multiple levels.
Take the photo above. It reminds me of the “primordial soup” from which all life emerged. The colors come from the algae, bacteria and brine shrimp, each of which flourish at different levels of salinity and each of which contributes a different color. So both literally and metaphorically, this photo embodies “growth”.
On first glance, this is a picture of desolation, the antithesis of “growth”. This area, within San Francisco Bay’s Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, was recently a salt pond – a place that could be flooded with sea water which was allowed to evaporate so that the salt could be extracted. Designated “Pond A16”, it is in the process of being restored to its original state as a salt marsh. In a few years it will be home to a thriving community of native salt-loving plants, animals, shore birds and fish. A reminder that sometimes things must be destroyed before they can be build anew.
As one of the largest wildlife refuges in an urban setting, the “hand of man” will always be present at Don Edwards. Human survival — and growth — has long been tied to this transition between land and sea. Salt marshes have been used as hunting and fishing grounds, transportation routes, sources of minerals, and a place to recreate since before recorded history to the present day. Reminders of these various uses are still present. The restored marsh will not be a recreation of the pre-human marsh. The new marsh will need to be designed to be resilient to the pollution in urban runoff and will have to provide flood protection to adjacent homes and commercial buildings.