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49th PARALLEL PROJECT

49th Parallel Border Vista

The Montana/ British Columbia border

The 49th Parallel Project

For 1,270 miles (2,043 km.) a section of the U.S./Canadian border is formed by the 49th parallel. A 20-foot (6 meter) wide clear-cut (or "vista") demarcates the line along with 912 survey markers. As the world's longest straight international boundary, this section of the border runs from the Lake of the Woods (Minnesota/Manitoba) to the waters of the Pacific (Washington/British Columbia). In 1992, I traveled by foot and bicycle along and nearby the course of this line. As a result of my travels, a substantial body of artwork and a documentary video were produced. The video is available on DVD for $17 (includes shipping in U.S. & Canada).

49th parallel satellite
Sections of the 49th parallel are visible from space as shown in this NASA satellite image. Because of the differences in agricultural subsidies between the two nations, different land usage becomes apparent: pastures of grain on the U.S. side (bottom of diagonal line) and open range on the Canadian side.

49th Parallel Project Installation: Whyte Museum, Banff, Alberta, Canada

49th PARALLEL PROJECT INSTALLATIONS

Installations of the artwork were exhibited in both Canada and the United States. These exhibitions offered the viewing public an opportunity to question the artificial and seemingly arbitrary aspects of this particular border, the metaphorical qualities of borders in general, and the reliance placed on maps to convey, constrain, and/or alter our sense of place.

 


Installation at the Whyte Museum, Alberta, 1996 (l to r):
Procession, Counting to 100 Series, and the Monumap Series

MONUMAP SERIES

The Monumap Series is the primary body of sculptural work from the 49th Parallel Project. Each four-foot piece represents one degree (approximately 60 miles) along the parallel. The trapezoidal shape is derived from the converging perspective while in the boundary vista and from the 5-foot obelisks which serve to demarcate the border. There are a total of 29 pieces in the series, some are free-standing (either vertically or horizontially), others are wall-mounted, while others lean against the wall.

Monumap: Cascades   Monumap: Midway

Monumaps: Cascades (left) and Midway (right), 4' high each, ceramic

 

Delineated Landscape: Moose Jaw #291

Delineated Landscape: Moose Jaw #291, 14" x 18", oil on canvas

PAINTINGS AND WORKS ON PAPER

Paintings (Delineated Landscape) and drawings (Counting to 100) among other series were part of the large body of work created for the 49th Parallel Project

The color and composition of the Counting to 100 series (below, right) are derived in part by the paper on which they are drawn- an atlas of Canada, with each map exposed along the 49th parallel. The map, like the creation of the border itself, dictates the landscape. Thin wires mounted midway in black wooden frames serve to further contain and restrain the drawn landscapes.

 

Counting to 100: Seattle (59)

11" x 11" x 2", oil pastel on paper

Counting to 100: Seattle (59)

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on border issues visit:

Culture and the Canadian U.S. Border (CCUSB)

Canadian Geographic 2010 article featuring images from the  49th Parallel Project