MADELINE CASS - HOW LONELY, TO BE A MARSH
A mostly forgotten and misunderstood place, this inland salt marsh is moistened by groundwater seeps, with water nearly as salty as the ocean, where endemic and endangered species call home. Cass combines her poetry and photography, images of botanical and zoological specimens, and early 1900s glass plate negatives and journal excerpts by pioneering prairie ecologist Frank Shoemaker. Frank Shoemaker Marsh and the surrounding protected wetlands are what remains of Nebraska’s saline wetlands, one of the rarest ecosystems on the Great Plains. how lonely, to be a marsh is an attempt to engender an elusive place not readily known— at once both heartfelt & heartbroken.
Salt is in our blood. Fundamental to human life, for millennia we have sought out salt. This body of work is a personification of place— an emotional reverie on a salt marsh near Lincoln, Nebraska. This ecological story, like so many others, is one of destruction, exploitation, and misunderstanding, calling to mind how people view the role of protecting irreplaceable land. Protections for endangered species are being weakened by the Trump administration. If we are to save critical habitat, it must be placed in a new context, one in which our relationship to it is based on the personal and poetic rather than the profitable & recreational.
Madeline Cass is a native of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. She primarily works within photography, poetry, artist books, graphic design, tattooing and drawing. Growing up in a major monocultural and agricultural area, her worldview has formed by seeking overlooked native landscapes and wildness that exist around us— and how people can connect to these spaces. Her work examines the multitude of relationships between art, science, nature, and humanity. Acting as a translator for nature, her practice is formed by sauntering and examining the landscape intimately, fostering dialogue and empathy. Through interacting with her local habitat in unexpected ways and inviting others to join, she offers alternative pathways into environmental consciousness and ecological thinking.