Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24scattered about the room, like chaff in a hot wind. You begin to read across the scrolling books of hours illustrated and written by Cynthia Brinich-Langlois, and you realize she has wrapped you in a work that creates a sort of dome of time and place, where the hours and the artist’s attention seem to revolve together under a beautifully cyanotopic night sky. Nearly all of these works are engaged in something extra, something I don’t usually associate with works of visual art: they’re engaged in identification. The word carries a scientific overtone, of course. Identification is one of the acts a field biologist performs. But think of the link between identification and portraiture. They assist each other. A portrait makes identification possible, and identification has the power to make portraiture more accurate. You can find these twin impulses occurring throughout the exhibition—in Without soil there is no color, in Brinich-Langlois’s accordion art-book called Death of A Leafy Spurge, in the bound volume of plant identifications that serves as a guidebook both to the plants of Ucross and to Bill Gilbert’s companion digital prints, Terrestrial/Celestial Navigations—Eridanus: Floodplain and Terrestrial/Celestial Navigations—Orion: Grasslands. Ucross has always tried to be a place where art and science merge. But only rarely have they merged as successfully as they do in this exhibition, where the work of scientists from the Yale School of Forestry (drawing deeply on the work of other scientists) extends and helps contextualize the work of artists from the University of New Mexico’s Land Arts of the American West program. I try to think of it this way. “Habitat” is the word we use to identify the species-in-place, which is as unitary (and nearly as difficult) a concept as Einstein’s space-time. It’s fundamentally a scientific word, though most of us use it in a non-rigorous way. It’s also a word we almost never apply to humans, if only because it’s too restrictive to describe the abandoned uses we’ve made of this planet. For the artist, though, we can speak of habitat in nearly the same way we speak of it when it comes to mule deer or kestrels. They have their whole being in place, and so, you might say, does the artist, whose very nature, it seems to me, is to be perilously open to the imprinting of place. What I know is this. I’ve been coming to Ucross for years, and I had never thought about the soils here until witnessing this exhibition. Like most of us, I can barely help inhabiting the geological instant of my personal incarnation. I’m a prisoner not of time but of instantaneousness. Yet looking at those mounds of soil, watching the video that accompanies them—seeing the rain beat down upon the dry plains, watching ants weaving in and out of their earthen tunnels—I remembered again something I wish I could always remember: that terra firma is a slow, unceasing ocean of change. VERLYN KLINKENBORG Verlyn Klinkenborg is the author of six books, most recently A Few Short Sentences about Writing and More Scenes from the Rural Life. He teaches at Yale University and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Harper’s, National Geographic, and other publications. He has been a writer-in-residence at Ucross and is a former Ucross board member.