1st Edition

Field to Palette Dialogues on Soil and Art in the Anthropocene

    703 Pages 340 Color Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    703 Pages 340 Color Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Field to Palette: Dialogues on Soil and Art in the Anthropocene is an investigation of the cultural meanings, representations, and values of soil in a time of planetary change. The book offers critical reflections on some of the most challenging environmental problems of our time, including land take, groundwater pollution, desertification, and biodiversity loss. At the same time, the book celebrates diverse forms of resilience in the face of such challenges, beginning with its title as a way of honoring locally controlled food production methods championed by "field to plate" movements worldwide. By focusing on concepts of soil functionality, the book weaves together different disciplinary perspectives in a collection of dialogue texts between artists and scientists, interviews by the editors and invited curators, essays and poems by earth scientists and humanities scholars, soil recipes, maps, and DIY experiments. With contributions from over 100 internationally renowned researchers and practitioners, Field to Palette presents a set of visual methodologies and worldviews that expand our understanding of soil and encourage readers to develop their own interpretations of the ground beneath our feet.


    1. Urban Farming: The New Green Revolution?
    Agnes Denes and Rattan Lal in conversation with Alexandra Toland

    2. Taste of Place: Terroir as Experience
    Laura Parker in conversation with Tom Willey, Lou Preston and Scott Burns

    3. A Root Stew from the Kitchen of Sarah Wiener
    Sarah Wiener

    4. Artisanal Soil
    Sue Spaid

    5. Black Gold
    Tattfoo Tan

    6. Temple of Holy Shit: On Human-Soil Nutrient Cycles and the Future of Sustainable Sanitation
    Valentina Karga, Ayumi Matsuzaka and Stephen Nortcliff in conversation with Alexandra Toland

    7. S.Oil
    Maria Michails and Ronald Amundson in conversation with Alexandra Toland

    8. Murray River Punch: A Conversation on Changes Along the River
    Richard MacEwan and Bonita Ely

    9. Yield
    Matthew Moore and Brent Clothier in conversation with Alexandra Toland

    10. On Corn Mothers and Meal Culture: Ecofeminist Alternatives to Food Politics and Soil Security
    Roxanne Swentzell and Parto Teherani-Krönner in conversation with Alexandra Toland


    11. Soil Genesis: A Dialogue for Creation
    Veronique Maria and Olafur Arnalds

    12. A Kind of Soil Genesis on Canvas
    Ulrike Arnold in dialogue with Thomas Scholten, Facilitation and text: Bettina Dornberg

    13. Painting with Earth: Earth Pigments in North Devon a Guide for Teachers and Artists
    Peter Ward

    14. Pedometrics, Pictures, and Poetry
    Elvira Wersche and Alex McBratney

    15. From Earth
    Herman de Vries in conversation with Nico van Breemen

    16. Correlation Drawing/Drawing Correlations
    Margaret Boozer and Richard K. Shaw in conversation with Claire Huschle

    17. Mineral Traces: The Aesthetic and Environmental Transcendence of Soil Mineral Properties
    Sarah Hirneisen, Jason Stuckey and Don Sparks

    18. A Snapshot in Time: The Dynamic and Ephemeral Structure of Peatland Soils
    Laura Harrington and Jeff Warburton

    19. Carbon
    Taru Sandén in dialogue with Alexandra Toland, postscript and images by Terike Haapoja

    20. Deep-Time Moles: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Geological Archiving
    Dave Griffiths, Sam Illingworth, Matt Girling


    21. Honoring Soil Hydrology in Pictures
    Gerd Wessolek

    22. Waterviz at Hubbard Brook: The Confluence of Science, Art and Music at Long Term Ecological Research Sites
    Lindsey Rustad, Xavier Cortada, Marty Quinn, Torrin Hallett

    23. Aesthetic Engineering: Giving Visual Credence to Restoration Processes
    Bruce James, Daniel McCormick and Mary O’Brien

    24. Rocks, Radishes, and Restoration: On the Relationships Between Clean Water and Healthy Soil
    Aviva Rahmani and Ray Weil

    25. Dirt Dialogue
    A conversation with Jackie Brookner, compiled and completed by Maxine Levin

    26. WATERWASH for a Swimmable Bronx River
    Lillian Ball and Edward R. Landa

    27. Backyard Portals: A Solutions-Oriented Approach to Valuing Soil
    Stacy Levy in dialogue with Patrick Drohan

    28. Don’t Worry, It’s Only Mud
    Patricia Watts and Amy Lipton in conversation with Mel Chin

    29. The Art of Decay: Soil Decomposition Explored Through the Visual Arts
    Farrah Fatemi and Laura Fatemi

    IV. HOME

    30. Exploring the Invisible: The Exemplary Life of Soil
    Simon F. Park

    31. SOILED. Reflecting A Natural Body Through Socio-Aesthetical and Bio-Political Viewpoints
    An Interview with Suzanne Anker by Regine Rapp & Christian de Lutz

    32. Nematode State of Mind
    Daro Montag in dialogue with Diana Wall

    33. On Colour Hunting
    Natsai Audrey Chieza and John Ward

    34. A Public Chemistry of the Detritusphere
    Georg Dietzler and Ellen Kandeler

    35. Soil Macrocosms: Microbes, People, and Our Cumulative Effects
    Alejandro Meitin, Claire Pentecost, and Brian Holmes in conversation with Ela Spalding

    36. A Soil Procession and Seed Journey to Preserve Genetic Diversity
    Régine Debatty in conversation with Amy Franceschini

    37. Future Worlds
    Wanuri Kahiu and Peter Haff in conversation with Carlina Rossée


    38. Reframing Heritage: Cultural Soilscapes and Soil Memory
    E. Christian Wells and Marlena Antonucci

    39. The Weapon is Sharing
    Cannupa Hanska Luger in conversation with Alexandra Toland

    40. Stories from the Hills: Tales of the Lowland
    Ruttikorn Vuttikorn, Myriel Milicevic and Prasert Trakansuphakon

    41. Sketches in the Sands of Time
    Mandy Martin and Libby Robin with responses from Guy Fitzhardinge and Mike Smith

    42. A Visual Ethnography of Soils in Space and Time
    Ekkeland Götze and Winfried Blum in conversation with Alexandra Toland

    43. Lessons from Emma Lake: A Metamorphosis of Science and Art in Landscape and Local Colour
    Ken Van Rees and Symeon van Donkelaar

    44. Soil Connoisseurship
    Linda Weintraub

    45. Underground Roots
    Nance Klehm in conversation with Akilah Martin

    46. Soil Lovers Unite! for a Down & Dirty Q & A
    Beth Stephens & Annie Sprinkle in conversation with farmer philosopher Fred Kirschenmann


    47. Seeing the Soil Platform
    Amy Green

    48. Perpetual Architecture: Uranium Disposal Cells of the Southwest
    Center for Land Use Interpretation

    49. Wastelands
    Lara Almarcegui in conversation with Gerd Wessolek

    50. The Earth Print Archive: A Forensic Documentation of Land Take
    Betty Beier in conversation with Gerd Wessolek, with input from Frank Glante and Jörg Katerndahl

    51. Soil in the City: The Socio-Environmental Substrate
    Debra Solomon and Caroline Nevejan

    52. The Soil Assembly and Dissemination Authority (SADA): A Thought Experiment in Building Tomorrow's Soils Today
    Ellie Irons, in collaboration with Jean Louis Morel

    53. Soil Chemistry and Urban Design in the Hybrid Landscapes of South China
    Seth Denizen and Qiu Rongliang

    54. The City as Forest: Cartographic Reflections on Land Use in Brazil
    Paulo Tavares and Antonio Guerra in conversation with Alexandra Toland

    55. Island Urbanism: Rethinking the Land-Use Technology of the Watershed
    Sean Connelly in dialogue with Alexandra Toland


    Dr. Alexandra R. Toland is a visual artist and environmental planner

    with research interests in ecosystem services, urban ecology, soil and

    culture, and the Anthropocene. She is junior professor for arts and

    research at the Bauhaus University of Weimar and has previously

    lectured at the Technische Universität Berlin, University of Arts Berlin

    (UDK), Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, and Leuphana University. She

    co-chaired the German Soil Science Society’s Commission on Soils in

    Education and Society from 2011 to 2015 with Gerd Wessolek and

    continues to write and make artwork about soil.


    Dr. Jay Stratton Noller is professor of landscape pedology and

    head of the Department of Crop and Soil Science at Oregon State

    University. His research focuses on morphologistics and human

    interactions with soils in modern and ancient agricultural and forest

    landscapes of the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. His

    experience crosses disciplines of soil science, geomorphology, art,

    and archaeology and his work as an artist at Soilscape Studio LLC is

    internationally recognized.

    Dr. Gerd Wessolek is a soil physicist and painter who has pioneered

    efforts at giving soils and soil science a broader exposure to wider

    audiences through presentations, exhibitions, and soil art projects.

    Information on his research on urban soils in the vadose zone and an

    online gallery can be found at http://www.boden.tu-berlin.de. Since

    1999 he has been chair of the Soil Protection Department at the

    Technische Universität Berlin.

    The ambition of the editors and contributors of the book Field to Palette: Dialogues on Soil and Art in the Anthropocene is to help society reconnect with soil. The chapters are either essays that explore some of the cultural articulations of soil or incredibly informative conversations between artists, activists and scientists who share their thoughts about the material properties, cultural histories, environmental functions and existential threats of soil.

    Field to Palette is an amazing publication. Its almost 700 pages are packed with photos, surprising information and moving encounters. I wish i had the time to talk about everything i’ve learnt in the book. The unexpectedly sophisticated sensory abilities of nematodes or the method to turn plastic-free baby diapers into planters and nutrients for trees, for example. Since one of the greatest achievements of the book is the way it demonstrates the important role that artists can play in raising discussions with the public and in participating to the solution to the many challenges soil faces today, i’ll dedicate the rest of my review of the book to just a few of the artworks and stories i discovered in Field to Palette.