EcoTopographics, Spring 2017; Digital giclee; 26.5”x 34”
"EcoTopographics: Co-Creating a Personal, Sustainable Vision"
Ten years ago, Shadow Creek development, Lakewood, New York was surveyed and excavated to construct forty houses. The soil and habitat were bulldozed, folded under, scraped clean, or trucked for landfill. Utilities were installed; roads blacktopped. Sold signs symbolized brand new owners. The voiding of all habitat represented a fresh beginning or genesis of sorts (visit 422now.com). Would the neighborhood model nature and best practices for sustainability?
James Colby vowed to “be the change he wished to see in the world.” He planted over 300 trees, bushes, and grass to shade, cool, and beautify his home. Today, earthen beds, water gardens, and flora hold water, restore habitat, and provide lush carbon sinks. Three rain barrels supply water for plants next to the Colby's home. Roof-water washes over lawns and into beds before traveling to retaining ponds. Energy-efficient plantation shutters cover all windows. Lisa Colby is planting daylily and phlox, transplanting bee balm, and germinating lupine that will vivify flower beds and "brook-scape" areas. Propagating indigenous flora and culling invasive species are priorities. Solar panels provide 100% of the family's electricity and charge a Prius Prime, Plus-in Hybrid. Green steps are taken one at a time. When these actions become integral parts of everyday life, they represent a "sociobiological" shift.
Two years ago, the Colby’s green landscaping and living became the subject for this documentary project; their newly fashioned environment supports local habitat, wildlife, and Chautauqua Lake watershed. In the end, this project demonstrates “Care for Our Common Home," as Pope Francis puts it. All ecosystems, large and small, are like threads or patterns within a biospheric tapestry; each element or form is interconnected and interdependent. Earth has lost too many vibrant threads, and the physical and ethereal lattices are falling apart. It's clear, Earth's ecosystems are out of sync with the nature of Nature and nature of humanity. No matter what your world view (theistic evolution, creation science, intelligent design, or big-bang theory), the diverse family of man must collaborate and cooperate to re-think, re-imagine, and re-create a new well-ordered planet.
About the Artist
James D. Colby (M.F.A. State University of New York at Buffalo, B.S. SUNY Brockport) is currently working as a grass roots environmental activist. He co-founded the GreenUp Jamestown Coalition with the Reverend Luke Fodor, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Jamestown, New York. His current artwork, “EcoTopographic: Co-Creating a Personal, Sustainable Vision,” and full bio can be viewed at 422now.com.
Colby served as Weeks Gallery Director/Curator of Exhibitions, Galleries, and Collections at Jamestown Community College (JCC) from 1997-2013. He founded the Global Collection of Photography and Museum Without Walls ArtReach programs, and curated over 150 shows that featured musicians, poets, writers, and scholars from across the nation and around the world.
He received a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, acquired artworks from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (photographs and screen prints), and received Photorealist works from the Louis K. Meisel Gallery in New York City. He was awarded the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service in recognition of outstanding performance, and received the JCC President’s Award for Excellence, and JCC Faculty Award for Excellence.
As an artist, Colby received numerous Chautauqua County Arts Council and New York State artist grants, and exhibited throughout New York State, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (four times), Castellani Art Museum, Visual Studies Workshop, Chautauqua Art Association Gallery, Roy H. Parks School of Communications, Ithaca College, and New York University’s 80 Washington Square East Galleries. He served on the Visual Arts Panel of the New York State Council on the Arts, held several Society for Photographic Education (SPE) Northeast Region offices, reviewed portfolios for SPE national conferences, and as a curator, exhibited over 40 SPE members.