Materiality of Place

Ephemeral Streams (2023)

Rebecca Schultz at Council Rock

Ephemeral Streams, 2023. Two-plate photopolymer etching made with soil-based ink.

In December 2023, I returned for my former home state of California to do a printmaking residency at Kala Institute in Berkeley. The aim of my residency was twofold: to learn photopolymer etching, a process I had never tried, and to work with Critical Zone scientists in the region. Through my collaboration with Scott Bailey at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, I connected with the Watershed Hydrology Lab at UC Santa Cruz. Doctoral student Lauren Giggy is doing important research on stream flow, which has implications for water resources management in ecosystems increasingly impacted by climate change-induced drought and fire. 

I spent a day with Giggy at the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, a field station for the University of California system located in the mountains east of San Jose, learning about her resesarch, making sketches and taking photographs, and gathering soil samples. Back at Kala, I created two photopolymer plates, both based on visual data generated from research in one of the watersheds in the Reserve. I printed them with soil-based ink. The reddish-brown image is drawn from a Lidar rendering of the watershed, which shows the sun exposure of various slopes. One of the particularly fascinating things about this particular stream is that the lithology (bedrock composition) is different on its two slopes, which translates into different vegetation. I collaged photographs of the bedrock and vegetation on each hillslope into the Lidar image. The gray image is hand drawn, and taken from Giggy’s streamflow data, which she monitors through in-stream sensors.