I was one of four artists awarded a Creative Ecology Art and Science Residency through the Palo Alto Art Center and Junior Museum and Zoo. The terms of the residency included community engagement and having each artist choose a public open space as the focus for their three part residency. I chose Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto for the reasons I outline here. During the first part of the residency, termed “in the field,” I worked with art and science educators to engage the community in exploring East Palo Alto's newest Open Space, Cooley Landing through art and science activities. Inspired by my typical artwork which consists of vast birds-eye landscapes that are intricately stitched, we did activities where we observed both large and small and we recorded our observations through drawing and writing in notebooks; a short documentary video by Herb Moore captures our experiences and I also have a photo essay here. The second part of the residency, termed “in the gallery,” spanned a period of 2 months during which I made artworks informed and inspired by the experiences in the first part. This included regular open studio hours in a gallery at the Palo Alto Art Center where the public could stop in and observe my process. I also offered visitors the opportunity to try out the process of silk painting hands-on by inviting them to paint small silk paintings. The residency culminated in the third part: an exhibition of the artworks created during the residency. During the first two parts, I engaged the community in making two artworks, a temporary land art installation and silk paintings for a community quilt. Scroll down to see the short documentary video (5 mins), photo essays about the temporary land art installation and the community quilt, the artworks created while “in the gallery” and the final exhibition.


Creative Ecology In-The-Field Documentary video

Documentary video by Herb Moore about the "in-the-field" part of my Creative Ecology Art+Science Residency highlighting the art and science activities we did outside at Cooley Landing. The original video was created to run as a silent loop during the exhibition of my work and Herb added his own music later. This is the version with his music from his album H2Overture.


Temporary Land Art Installation at Cooley Landing
Temporary Land Art Installation at Cooley Landing
View of part of Temporary Land Art Installation at Cooley Landing

Cooley Landing is an artificial peninsula of land formed by garbage landfill. From 1930 - 1960, the county of San Mateo dumped and incinerated their refuse here. Using the United States Coastal Survey Map of San Francisco Bay from 1857 and a current satellite image, I was able to approximate where the historic shoreline of the bay once was on the present landscape of Cooley Landing. I then invited the community to participate in creating a temporary land art installation marking that historic shoreline using over 2,000 blue plastic survey whiskers. Click here for more information about the research, process, and community creating the installation.
Materials: Blue plastic survey whiskers and 5" nails, hammered in place.
Exhibition History: Installation on display at Cooley Landing July 2015 - December 2016. Photographs on display Nov 2015 - Jan 2016, Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, CA and April 2017 - present, Cooley Landing Education Center, East Palo Alto, CA.
Photo credit: Joel Bartlett


Community Quilt (Photo Essay)

Art made during in-the-gallery part of residency
Cooley Landing: Life in Water ©2015 Linda Gass
Copyright ©2015 Linda Gass. Photograph by Don Tuttle

Title: Cooley Landing: Life in Water

Year: 2015

Dimensions: 18½”h x 18½”w x ¼”d
(26"h x 26"w x 1½”d framed)

Statement: Cooley Landing: Life in Water is a birds-eye view of Cooley Landing, a former toxic landfill site on San Francisco Bay, coupled with a view of water and mud samples examined under a microscope that reveal a recovered ecosystem teeming with life. We see amphipods, nematodes, water boatmen insects and more. This artwork was inspired by the artistic and scientific inquiries made with the community at Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto during my Creative Ecology Art + Science Residency through the Palo Alto Art Center and Junior Museum and Zoo.

Media: Silk crepe de chine, silk broadcloth, silk Indian Doupioni, silk dyes, gutta resist, polyester batting, rayon/viscose and polyester embroidery thread

Click here to learn more about this work.

Cooley Landing: Impact of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise ©2015 Linda Gass
Copyright ©2015 Linda Gass. Photograph by Don Tuttle

Title: Cooley Landing: Impact of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise

Year: 2015

Dimensions: each 11”h x 11”w x ¼”d
(15"h x 15"w x 1½”d framed)

Statement: Sea level rise due to climate change will profoundly affect the low-lying areas around San Francisco Bay. This series of stitched paintings shows the landscape of Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto in 2015 and then with future projections (courtesy of NOAA) of 1, 3 and 5 feet of sea level rise. Areas covered in water are stitched with blue thread.

Media: Silk crepe de chine, silk broadcloth, silk Indian Doupioni, silk dyes, gutta resist, polyester batting, rayon/viscose and polyester embroidery thread

Click here to learn more about this work.


Creative Ecology Exhibition
Linda Gass Creative Ecology Exhibition at the Palo Alto Art Center
Linda Gass: What We Discovered at Cooley Landing

View of Creative Ecology Art+Science Residency Exhibition at the Palo Alto Art Center November 15, 2015 - January 12, 2016.
Left: Video monitor playing documentary video in continuous loop; right: community quilt; center: artworks created during "in-the-gallery" part of residency.
Photo courtesy of the Palo Alto Art Center.