Trash Human (Self Reflection)

EVOLUTION GRANT recipient Spring 2021


I have been contemplating my relationship with art and the vast amount of waste creating can produce. Classically trained as a landscape painter, I pivoted to eco art when the parallel between painting landscapes and feeding landfills became overwhelmingly apparent. The landscapes that so richly inspired me were being hurt by the waste I created in order to depict them. To rectify this unwanted connection, I have developed a zero-waste practice that involves creating canvases from debris found during my travels through National Parks and protected landscape environments. The physical pieces of trash are painted only on one side and intentionally left untouched on the reverse so the original piece of debris remains evident. Once completed, I photograph the painted object aligned with the physical landscape to both obscure and highlight the discarded object. In the wake of the longest ever government shutdown, it is now more critical than ever to leave no trace. When our public lands are not vigilantly protected, the detrimental effects cannot be ignored. These wild spaces can easily be taken for granted, as even the most remote of such are becoming paved and overrun with idling personal vehicles. My practice revolves around ways I can lessen my footprint upon Earth and leave it better than I found it.


Mariah Reading is an eco-artist and strong advocate for the existence, preservation, and accessibility of the National Parks. She was born and raised in Bangor, Maine where the surrounding landscape gave her a deep appreciation of nature’s beauty that was reinforced by her degree in Visual Arts at Bowdoin College. The 2016 National Park Centennial propelled her Recycled Landscapes, designed to bring attention to the need of preserving and protecting the environment. Having already visited 24 National Parks, she plans to continue her project in all 63 US National Parks. Mariah has dedicated herself to the field of eco-art through her Artist in Residence at Denali, Zion, and Acadia National Parks, working as an Arts In the Parks Volunteer at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, assisting in Yosemite Facelift efforts, developing a K-12 STREAM curriculum with University of California Santa Barbara Oceanography students, and creating conservation workshops with the Channel Islands National Park. She has exhibited work in San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Fort Collins, CO; McKinley Village, AK; Brunswick, ME; and Kamuela, HI; Poughkeepsie, NY; and Davis, CA. From April through September Reading is an environmental interpreter.

Cup of Antarctica