Conversations About Landscape Online: Observing Landscapes—Mirrors of Time

Part of the Series Land, People, Place

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 • 7:00–8:00 p.m. PST

Free event but an RSVP is required.

About the Series Land, People, Place

While the coronavirus pandemic has kept many of us sequestered from one another, it has also allowed us time to experience our cities in a new way. A slower pace for many has opened up space to sit with and observe our immediate surroundings and our natural environment. To celebrate the local landscape, this series offers perspectives on history and place and how we both shape and are shaped by our natural environments. We will be talking with scientists, artists, poets, and environmental activists to celebrate the Bay Area and our ongoing resilience planning, as we begin a new era of reflection and reorientation toward strengthening Bay Area communities.


Mirrors of Time

History, politics, nature, and culture shape our sense of our landscape. Who we are, where we come from, and how we see our futures all connect back to our sense of place. 

Please join poet Tess Taylor and photographer Lewis Watts in considering ways our contemporary landscape holds traces of the past and glimmers of the future. Through a poem or a lens, Tess and Lewis offer perspectives on the complexities of cultural and ecological change. Taylor will read excerpts from her two new books, Last West, Roadsongs For Dorothea Lange and Rift Zone. Watts will present images from his 30 years of observations of African American life and transformation in California.

Tess Taylor is a poet whose work has appeared in numerous publications including The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and the Times Literary Supplement. She has also served as on-air poetry reviewer for NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Her current books include the Last West, Roadsongs For Dorothea Lange, commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art New York to accompany the exhibition Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures, and Rift Zone, which uses the geology of the California landscape, specifically along the Hayward Fault where Taylor lives, as a geologic metaphor to consider the complicated politics of our time—mass evictions, deportation, racism, gun violence, and parenting. Taylor is currently on the faculty of Ashland University’s Low-Residency MFA Creative Writing Program. She grew up and lives again in El Cerrito, California.

Lewis Watts is a photographer and archivist/curator. He taught photography at UC Berkeley and is Professor Emeritus of Art from UC Santa Cruz. His work centers around the “cultural landscape,” primarily in communities occupied by people of African descent. He is the co-author of Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era 2006, 2017 and New Orleans Suite: Music and Culture in Transition. He lives in Richmond, California.

Photos by Lewis Watts. Rosie the Riveter Visitor Center (left) and Richmond Tree House (right).