“Beyond the Water’s Edge” Artist Statements

Pam Andros, Steering Committee

Beyond the Waters Edge is a wonderful example of a project that uses the arts to bring people together.  Whether people came because they are concerned about the environment, they wanted to hear poetry, they enjoy photography or because they love their library, they came together and when they did, experienced something unique and engaged in a wonderful conversation.   This is exactly the type of the collaborative project I enjoy the most.

I believe in the power of the arts to inspire engagement and to provide a means for people to express themselves and share with others, whether via movement, music, spoken word, written word, storytelling, historic preservation, theatre, 2D and 3D visual art, film & video, digital media, and any combination you could imagine.

I’m lucky to live in Dane County where we have a the Lakes and Watershed Commission and the fabulous Department of Land and Water, where talented Dane County staff created the list of 25 special water places within the county and the associated map (http://tinyurl.com/DC25places).   One of my favorites is Yahara Heights County Park because of the many wonderful trips with my boys and dogs.  This is where Rudy races off the pier chasing tennis balls with his sister Gabby following along, and my sons had their first long encounter with walking and playing on frozen water.

Brad Baranowski, photographer

I am a graduate student in history at UW-Madison. A transplant from northeast Ohio, another clime where winter is the most common word spoken in discussions of the weather, I have been happy to call Madison home, negative-digits and all, for the past three years. While I have been interested in photography for some time, I did not begin pursuing the hobby in a serious manner until about a year ago. Thanks to the help of some close friends, I have been able to learn much about the art since then. My favorite genres are street photography, portrait photography, night photography, abstract photography, and black and white photography.

“Sunset Casting” is part of a project I worked on this summer. Part experimentation with some new equipment, part inspiration to capture the activity in James Madison Park at sunset, I visited this location for several weeks over June and July to photograph Madisonians as they enjoyed the end of a summer day. The choice of locations was easy since Lake Mendota is one of my favorite places to walk around when I am taking a break from working or just in need of a Using a tripod and a zoom lens, I shot “Sunset Casting” because I like to capture people in the middle of their daily activities. The photo depicts two fishermen in a canoe, drifting around Lake Mendota as the day draws to a close. One of the anglers patiently waits for his line to jerk and bob with a catch. The other is caught just after he has recast his line, no doubt in the hope of better luck. Exposing for the water allowed me to emphasize both the colors cast by the setting sun and the fishermen that were casting into these final rays of daylight.

Phillip L. Billings, photographer

I entered the Dane County Lakes and Watershed competition “Beyond the Water’s Edge” to be part of a larger movement to clean up of local water systems.

With over forty years of nature photography experience my passion for Wildlife and Landscape Photography continues to grow.  I search for wildlife that is active and performing natural behaviors.  My landscapes blend color and interest with the use of fog or early morning natural lighting.

Over the years I have been honored to display my artwork in various Madison Area Galleries: Overture Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison Memorial Union (Potter Buttes Gallery), UW Hospitals, Lussier Family Heritage Center (Lake Farms Dane County Park), Jenni and Kyle Preserve, Monona Public Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison Sterling Hall 4th Floor Gallery, City of Madison Goodman South Branch Public Library, and in the Fall of 2014 my work will be in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum Steinhauer Trust Gallery.

The Dane County Arts Commission selected one of my photographs for the 2014 Dane Arts Calendar.

For ideas to decorate your home or office please selected this link to my website:

Faustina Bohling, Poet

I have always been fascinated by the force of water, the draw it has on people and how it connects us to the larger ecosystem.  When I wrote the piece for this project I tied the force, the lulling effect and the life course of people together.  I wanted it to embody the pure rawness of the human experience within this essential element.  In the experience of reading I wanted to convey the feeling of acceptance of what this merger all meant.

As a teen I used to ride my bike from the East side of Madison to the Memorial Union terrace just before sunrise.  It was quiet, no one was around and I would just sit along the shore.  It was church to me to be with the world as it woke up.  As an adult I have found another “church” outside of Dane county that has touched me as deeply as those mornings on the terrace.  The peace and remoteness of the Boundary Waters in MN have brought me back to the stillness that I had lost in adulthood.  Canoeing through the Boundary Waters brought me back to the connectedness of the world and offered the reminder to truly experience life.   To not waste it by rushing through it and missing everything which life and myself have to give. 

I will end with this: I pray that the stillness and being within the moments we find in nature will help our reconnection to the ecosystem.  See and share with others the connection.  Keep reminding ourselves that there that aren’t slices which we can make simple, neglect or exploit.  I hope the things we treasure, or learn to treasure again, are here for generations to come.  That future generations will have the opportunity to be able to feel this connectedness, peace and wellbeing within their world.  Maybe, quite possibly, feel our presence in the whole.

This is home.  Welcome.

Elizabeth Breed, Photographer

I have gone in numerous directions in my art over the years.  I began doing photography when I had the need to photograph my other artwork to fulfill exhibition entry requirements which required me to zero in on technique.  Thus my love and obsession with the wonderful world of macrophotograhy - or close-up work, began.   I have exhibited widely throughout Wisconsin since the mid-1980’s, and have taught workshops or courses in the arts –including at the university level – while at the same time having a career as a reference librarian at the University of Wisconsin most of my adult life.   I am retired and live in Oregon, Wisconsin.

Making art requires discipline and arduous intellectual decision-making.  It is a process of self-discovery, and a need to remember an experience, or to commit to memory a time or place something that had or has meaning for oneself.   The lakes and streams in Dane County are the backdrop of so much of my experience, and to photograph the beauty I see even in a winter stream along a bike path is a process of self renewal many times over.  It is so much a pleasure to share a simple moment with others through a photograph.

Sarah Busse, Steering Committee Member

As a poet and publisher, I believe in the importance of conversations that happen across the arts and beyond, across disciplines to the sciences, to public policy, to politics. Poems (and by extension, the arts in general) know – in ways that we do not otherwise have access to. To ask poets, and photographers, to address environmental questions and ecological subjects helps to inform and round out our understanding of something as elemental (in every sense) as the natural waterways of Dane County. Of course, we also have to listen closely to what artists have to say about these things. This exhibit begins that work.

As I like to say, The arts are not the frosting on the cake. They are the necessary leavening.

As Madison Poets Laureate, Wendy Vardaman and I have launched a new project: "Write Your Madison." This includes bringing poetry to Common Council Meetings, running the call for "Bus Lines" poems in partnership with Metro Transit, the annual Olbrich Gardens Poetry Reading, and our recently  published anthology,  Echolocations, Poets Map Madison(Cowfeather Press 2013). (Seven of the poems in this exhibit are from Echolocations.) We will be issuing new "Write Your Madison" calls and events through Verse Wisconsin, Cowfeather Press, and #WriteYourMadison on Twitter.

My own favorite waters within the city are the humble little drainage ponds in Owen Park. Of course they are nothing special, designed to catch residential runoff and keep pollution out of our larger lakes. But I can walk to them regularly to visit, and familiarity makes them dear. I know when to look for the flocks of gold finches, when I might see a hawk, when to hope for a heron. Sometimes the air is so buzzed with clover it actually smells like honey. And though it sits right off a busy road and in the heart of the city, Owen Park feels remote and a little wild, and I like to think about how we protect that kind of wildness within our well-ordered neighborhoods.

Eloisa Callender, Photographer

I am a writer and photographer. My visual style combines a photojournalist’s instinct to tell a story with an artist’s eye for distilling the essence of her subjects. Her works are in the collections of private and institutional collectors.

Jordan Dunn, Poet

Some of my interests in water places include understanding how they have been transformed, what it means to find beauty in an altered landscape, and how watersheds create commonality between people who could otherwise be divided by cultural or economic differences.
As a resident of Madison, my favorite water place is Lake Wingra. I value the lake for the relative solitude it provides within the city limits. It is an important contradiction of natural springs and storm sewers, urban development and ecological restoration.  

Fabu, Poet
The Mississippi River has fascinated me since I was a child, not only because of the river's historical significance when slave auctions and cotton markets were held on its banks in Memphis, but also because the river overflows regularly into the streets.  I have always felt that the river was speaking to me, trying to tell me a very complicated story.  I felt at home for the first time in Wisconsin when I traveled to La Crosse and saw the mighty Mississippi river flowing there too.  Later I read a Wisconsin Academy notation that Macaja Revels, black and free, stopped by a "stream of water near the Village of Madison."  That scholarship welded with my fascination with water and a poem was created. 

I not only love the Mississippi River, but all of the rivers described in Langston Hughes' poem with the line, "My soul has grown deep like the rivers."  Madison, being surrounded by five lakes, and understanding that Native people once traveled to Madison to conduct sacred ceremonies by these lakes, is wonderful information indeed.  I also came across a travel account that in the 1800's the lakes were so clear that you could see sand at the bottom.  Natural waters are precious.

Thomas Ferrella, Photographer

Exploration is the simplest way to assay my work.

I conceptualize a piece or a body of work based on visual clues and their subsequent sensory perception.  I then decide on the medium.  All the mediums I work in are self-taught; hence my varied sculpture, photography, painting and audiovisual endeavors.  Common threads exist though they are personally irrelevant.  I want my art to be as free as my interpretation is of the world.

Everything is fair game. My favorite place is the one I haven’t discovered yet. 

For a peek inside:  www.ferrella.com

Colette Girard, Photographer

Photography has been a lifelong interest.  Since retiring from my professional career as a therapist with the Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute and Clinics, I’ve enjoyed the freedom to transform a former past time into a fulfilling adventure in art.  I am a member of the Madison Art Guild and have exhibited in several Madison venues. 

The inspiration for much of my current artwork is owed to the study of Miksang, a form of contemplative photography which seeks to clearly see and appreciate the vividness of the visual world.  I especially enjoy finding unusual ways of viewing and photographing my surroundings.  My photographs are spontaneous rather than planned, and often occur as the result of a subtle shift of light or movement that has attracted my attention.

Some photographs, such as my water reflections, are printed on canvas to emphasize texture and depth.  Other, more abstract images have been infused into metal to enhance the quality of luminescence. 

Miriam Hall, Poet

I grew up in Outagamie County. My mother and I used to spend a lot of our time together at Thousand Islands in Kaukauna, at High Cliff state Park on Lake Winnebago, along Lake Michigan anywhere we could: Door County, Point Beach, anywhere we could be by water but relatively alone. She raised me with a deep respect for nature and silence.

I have long loved water, and viewing Madison from above in the many planes I take to fly places to teach Contemplative Writing and Photography, I am always so grateful to see how much blue space we have here. Bringing my skills in either to respect and celebration of water is natural: I had to choose which to use, poetry or photography, for this exhibit, so deep is my admiration!

In Dane County, my favorite spot is on Tenney Beach, just a few blocks from my home. There’s a set of old trees there that reach out over the water, and grow and grow into a porous castle on the shore. This is my favorite water place: to perch and watch muskrats go by. I also love the lagoon at Tenney, and spend as much time as I can at Lake Wingra. Cherokee Marsh reminds me of my favorite marsh, Horicon, and I often walk there with my wife. There are so many good water spots in our county, and so much need for us to protect and preserve, respect and observe their needs.

Diane Hammer, Photographer

My primary subject matter in photography is people interacting with their environment and with one another. This ranges from traditional "street photography" -- candid moments that capture a mood or place -- to what I think of as the "populated landscape." I enjoy outdoor activities, and always carry a camera, so many of my photographs record the changing seasons along trails in Dane County.

My "Beyond the Water's Edge" photographs were taken close to my home in Middleton, in places I walk frequently, in all sorts of weather. The wetland boardwalk is located over a detention pond that is part of the Wetland Conservancy Area of the Middleton Parks system.The swale and weed control photos record the efforts of the Pheasant Branch Conservancy and Middleton Parks Department to restore and protect the threatened frog pond located near the Park Street entrance to the Pheasant Branch Creek trail.

Cynthia Marie Hoffman, Poet

My poem, At First, We Are Drawn, was written in response to the category, “Water and Daily Life.” Several of the photographs in that category show people standing or sitting by the lake while the sun gets lower in the sky. That got me thinking about not only the passage of a day but also the passage of a lifetime, and our changing relationship to water as we grow old.

I’ve lived in Madison for nine years, and whether my family and I are here to stay, or whether we eventually move on to elsewhere, the lakes in this city will always be dear to my heart. The evening my husband proposed, we were walking on a path alongside Lake Mendota. Not too far in the distance, the buildings that make up the University of Wisconsin, the reason we moved here, were visible on the shore. These days, we often take our daughter to the many playgrounds perched near the water’s edge.

When I think of being young myself, I always recall that I grew up playing along the tiny meandering creek in the forest behind my childhood home. I believe a part of me was shaped by that time in the forest and my communion with the water. And now, the lakes in Madison are a part of the makings of our own family.

Just as expressed in my poem, perhaps more than we realize, water (in its many forms) is ever-present in the landscape of our lives.

Sue Jones, Steering Committee

Water places have drawn and inspired me since I was a child, and I have enjoyed taking and viewing photographs for many years.  I loved it when in my professional work with members of the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission, they suggested a photography contest and exhibition to honor 25 years of Commission work to protect and improve Dane County water resources.   Thanks to the excellent ideas that emerged in working with other Steering Committee members, we added the poetry and spoken word performances that were so inspiring at the exhibit’s November 2, 2013 opening reception at Goodman South Madison Branch Library.

I had the pleasure of working with my colleagues in the Dane County Department of Land and Water Resources to create the list of 25 special water places within the county. Michelle Richardson in our Department created the wonderful map of these places (http://tinyurl.com/DC25places).   One of my favorites of these special places is Frederick Springs and Pheasant Branch Creek. I love the view from the hill and the up-close view of the springs down below! I hope to visit all 25 special places -- what about you?

Wendy Kaplan, Photographer

b. 1955-- graduate from the University of Wisconsin Madison 1977.  An emerging photographer, with no formal training, specializes in portraits and nature.  Kaplan, who has resided in the Town of Sun Prairie since 1985, lives in a stone farmhouse, built in 1855 with her husband of 32 years. 

'Road Closed' documents the 2008 flooding that occurred outside their rural farmhouse in the Town of Sun Prairie. The "road closed' barriers were immediately placed when the water covered the road... However, drivers ignored them by getting out of their cars, moving the blockades, and driving through the water.   Eventually concrete barriers were brought in.  Several full grown, established trees were casualties of the flooding, including a tree of a hundred years, which died the following year when its roots perished in the flood waters. 

The print was created using a Canon ImageProGraf 6400 printer which uses archival pigment inks that are rated to last for 100 + years with normal storage or display. The print was produced using an Epson Professional Media Premium Photo Paper Luster.

Michael Knapstein, Photographer

I have lived in Dane County for more than 30 years. During that time, I have spent many enjoyable hours exploring and photographing the diverse water resources in our area. Because of the important role these waters have played in my photography, I was honored to have the opportunity to participate in this photography and poetry exhibition to help celebrate the exceptional work done by the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission over the past 25 years. My hope is that this exhibit will help shine a light on the Commission’s important work to help protect these special places.

For many years I lived in Middleton’s Foxridge neighborhood and was fortunate enough to be just a few steps away from two of my favorite water places; Tiedeman Pond and Stricker’s Pond.  Because of my close proximity, I was able to visit these two kettle ponds very often.

I was always struck by their visual beauty as well as the variety of wildlife they supported. The photograph in this exhibit, Sunset Swim, was taken at Stricker’s Pond just before sunset.  


Don Kosterman, Photographer

Born and raised in Washington County under the shadow of a castlelike monastery atop Holy Hill, I never fully appreciated the uniqueness of the natural beauty that surrounded me as a youth.

I learned to swim in the glacial lakes and I hiked the rolling hills with my dad in search of the elusive morel mushroom.  I photographed both the intense colors splashed over the forested hills in fall and the black and white compositions of winter, created by the unusual landforms that surrounded me.  But it was just "the place I grew up."

It was at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee that one course especially captured my attention and sparked a lifelong interest in our Badger landscape -- the study of Wisconsin geography. But it wasn't until I left the Kettle Moraine area of southeastern Wisconsin to serve in the Army that I really came to appreciate the lakes and land I had experienced as a youth.

As a journalist in West Bend, Sheboygan and Madison, I continued to be amazed at how much of what I have enjoyed in this great state was formed by events that took place over 10,000 years ago, during the most recent stage of the Ice Age.

It's the same wonder that influenced John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Gaylord Nelson and Ray Zillmer in their appreciation and love of the land... and their zeal for its conservation.

Peace be on the land.

Paul McMahon, Photographer

I am an independent photographer and have been so for many years.  I shoot a broad range of subjects, from running events to special events, news, farmers’ markets, agriculture and farming—around 30,000 images a year over the last ten years.  I sell some stock images, framed prints, and produce marketable images for racing organizers (marathons, 5ks, etc.)  On the other hand, shooting landscapes is an infrequent luxury—and it’s usually in the northland, though occasionally in Dane and Iowa counties.   I’m a charter member of the Center for Photography at Madison.  It was their co-sponsorship of this exhibition that drew my interest. 

I really don’t think of any water in Dane County as my “favorite,” though I gravitate to the west end of Lake Mendota, or to the streams/fields of western Dane County (e.g., the Black Earth watershed).  Water is invariably great to photograph, a very forgiving subject—and rarely uninteresting.  I love the peace and quiet of University Bay in Madison, on the west end of campus just off Lot 60.  It teems with seasonal birds and other wildlife and is great in any month, but especially during summer and fall for me.  It’s one reason why people love this city—to find such natural beauty within an active urban area. 


Kathy Dodd Miner, Poet

I have lived one block from the western edge of Lake Wingra since 1978, and I have had many unique and fascinating encounters with wildlife there.  My poem ‘Great Blue, How Do You Do?’ is simply a description of one of those encounters; others have included watching otters play, witnessing the mating of two platter-sized snapping turtles, and being so close to a coyote that I could see the yellow rings in her eyes.  Once, in the moonlight, I saw what looked like white grocery bags caught in the branches of a fallen tree, and realized that I was looking at eight great egrets roosting over the water!  Another time, a random glance upward revealed a barred owl perched on a lateral branch of an oak tree, far more aware of me than I had been of him.  How many places can one live that allow such wonderful interactions with the natural world?

Sunrise at Lake Wingra is my favorite time and place on the planet.  The day begins in a unique and beautiful way every single day, and all I have to do is show up and receive the gift.  Somehow being at the edge of water, which doubles each image and hue, magnifies and deepens the experience.

I have been writing poetry since the age of 9.  It is my humble attempt to pass on to others a bit of the beauty I have been lucky enough to witness.

Sara Parrell, Poet

My poem, “Frautschi Point, December”, was invited to become a part of this exhibition after it was selected for inclusion in the Cowfeather Press 2013 anthology, “Echolocations: Poets Map Madison”. I am delighted to be a part of the community honoring the waters of Dane County. The Wisconsin River, Black Earth Creek, Madison’s lakes including Lake Mendota’s Frautschi Point; all have formed me as a poet, and as a citizen. My father, Merton Walter, was Dane County Board Chair in the early 70’s. In a 1974 report on the Cherokee wetlands to the Dane County Regional Planning Commission that he vice-chaired, the authors wrote all life arose in water—words that guide my art and activism, still. I am grateful for the echo.

Danez Smith, Poet

I was excited to have my work be included because I believe we all have a special connection to water, this great substance that is 75% of our world and 75% of our bodies. I am always thinking about how people, my people in particular, are related to the water. How we know it as a friends just the same as we know it’s not so secret violence. No matter how gentle or fierce, I want to know all the water has to tell me.

When I lived in Madison, I lived right on the lake off Langdon. The sound of the rowing team on the water at dawn, the sound of parties stretched down the street in summer, the sound of the quiet, quiet winter, the sound of the water when I jumped those times when the water wasn’t too green. That dock at the old apartment building will always be my favorite place by water. It will always be a little home.

James Thornberry

I grew up in the Midwest followed by college on the East Coast where I first began photographing, largely in black and white due to its graphic, textured and topographical nature plus its much lower cost.  Medical training and practice plus raising a family curtailed most of my photography until my son's interest in it rekindled my own, resulting in my receiving a digital single lens reflex camera for Christmas in 2010.  The potential control, flexibility, and immediacy of digital imaging welcomed me back into creating images in ways unimaginable when I used film in enlargers.  Mastering that potential will be a challenge for me for years to come.  The Center for Photography at Madison / Photomidwest facilities, programs, and members have greatly aided me in this journey.

I live in the Lake Wingra watershed in proximity to the UW Arboretum, providing ready access to its varied ecosystems and landscapes.  Living in this area for several decades prompts reflection on changes in that environment from natural and human causes.  Beyond the Water's Edge's "troubled waters; water at risk" image category resonated with me because of my ongoing project of images dealing with the hidden environmental impact of our species on groundwater.
My Asphalt, Salt, Groundwater series may at first glance appear to be abstract or graceful natural patterns.  Closer examination of these images reveals the sources and consequences of salt on our groundwater and lakes.  From 1993 to 2008 sodium and chloride concentration in 4 of 5 Madison drinking water wells increased by about 50 to 100%.   Lake Wingra, one of my favorite local lakes, had an average chloride concentration of 115 mg/L in 2012, a 130%  increase over the last 30 years.

Wendy Vardaman, Steering Committee

As a poet, editor, and publisher, I enjoy collaborating with other people and organizations in order to promote and expand our ideas of both poetry and  publication. I believe that poetry—such as we encounter in this exhibit and displayed with these photographs—can help us to ask better questions, engage in deeper discussion, promote healthier communities, and live more meaningfully. Madison’s Poet Laureate post is a volunteer position that encourages service through poetry. The overall project that Sarah Busse and I are focused on, "Write Your Madison," includes Poetry at Common Council Meetings, "Bus Lines" in partnership with Metro Transit, the annual Olbrich Gardens Poetry Reading, and a just published anthology,  Echolocations, Poets Map Madison, Cowfeather Press. “Beyond the Water’s Edge” features seven poems from Echolocations, as well as thirteen more that look closely at water in Madison and Dane County. New "Write Your Madison" calls and events are announced through Verse Wisconsin, Cowfeather Press, and #WriteYourMadison on Twitter.

My family of five has never owned a car, so we don’t tend to visit spots in the county inaccessible by public transportation or bike. We’ve been lucky to live near Lake Wingra since we moved to Madison thirteen years ago and have used it to ice skate, swim, kayak and fish. Its surrounding parks and trails have provided places to walk, run, bike, sled, fly kites, visit the zoo and play as the children grew up. Though I love Madison’s other lakes too, Wingra feels most like home to me.

Amy Wencel, Photographer


In our science studies we learn that the water molecule is unique, with its bent polar bond, its volume expansion when solid, its high boiling point, its ability to transport other substances, and other magic properties that make life possible for Earthlings. Non-chemists might not think that much about water’s physical properties day-to-day, but when combined with light, water’s various states – as ice, wind waves, habitat, clouds – delight the eye of we who pause to look.
Psychically, we relate to water on a first-order, limbic level: we need water to survive, we fear water that can crush us, we are awestruck by a rainbow. For me, being in or near water also potentiates an irresistible play response. My artwork demonstrates these connections to water. I’ve had exhibits installed in a pool and anchored in Madison lakes. “Ice Ceiling,” the image selected for Beyond the Water’s Edge, was taken with an underwater film camera, submerged into an ice-fisherman’s hole near the Mendota Rowing Club boathouse.

Earthlings who live in Dane County are blessed to have great access to numerous splotches and runnels of high quality fresh water to gaze at and play in. I am pleased and honored to participate in this exhibit celebrating our local waters.
I’m born-and-raised in Madison, though summer I lived in a perpetually wet swimming suit at the family cottage in Green Lake County. I went to college and finished a bachelor’s degree in Business, but my grade point average, and my happiness, were buoyed by the art classes I took.

After college I sailed a lot, held jobs selling small boats and repairing sails, and took a year to go sailing around the Great Lakes and US East Coast. When I got back to land I learned to be a graphic designer. I worked in design many years for excellent organizations. I went back to school and got an MFA in Printmaking – though mostly I was using Photoshop 1.0 to create images using my underwater photography, making artist books, and getting a taste for environmental installation. I also taught design principles, typography, and computer technique to college students.
For a bunch of years I studied health sciences and medicine, worked in health care, and rowed a lot. Now I work in a library, design for a handpicked clientele, take more pictures than I have time to edit, invent impossible art installations, and swim a lot. I find joy rowing with my beloved Tenny and my dog Chip in our hand-built dory.
My favorite water places in Dane County are the ones where I can swim.