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Oglala , 2010

by Matthew Farley


Mediums: Mural, Mixed Media

Location: Downtown; Grain Silo 3417 Vinton Street Omaha, NE

Owner: Emerging Terrain

Series: Stored Potential

Additional Information: Inspired by the Stored Potential project description reference to “reading the landscape,” public artist Matthew Farley immediately envisioned center-pivot irrigation circles. An aerial reminder of the grid system imposed over much of the United States by Thomas Jefferson’s 1785 National Land Survey, the pattern still provides the basic geometric order of the once unruly Great Plains. Using satellite imagery, Matthew has stitched together a “quilt” of parcels from the Nebraska landscape near the town of Ogallala so that the resulting arrangement of darkened crop circles emerge as Braille symbols. Coded within the crop circles is a reference to the Ogallala (High Plains) Aquifer, the precious resource stored below—perhaps the ultimate “stored potential.” The image’s pattern alludes to the originating word, “oglala” (lower case is used in the translation for visual purposes), meaning “to scatter one’s own.” The watery color palette offers a visual clue to this coded text—and certainly, the “circles of blue” are appropriate as well. The banner utilizes high-resolution satellite imagery courtesy of the United States Geological Survey that reveal details such as tractor tire marks, which form another layer of patterning reminiscent of quilting and an indication of deeper settlement: cultivation.

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