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Crossing Boundaries: Using art to create an ecological campaign

Authors: Jay Johnson*, University of Kansas, Natasha Chenot, University of Kansas
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Urban Geography
Keywords: Wakarusa Wetlands, Indigenous geographies, art, boundary objects
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Wakarusa Wetlands, once a 17,000-acre wet prairie landscape, sit on the edge of the Haskell Indian Nations University campus and play an important role within the university’s culture and history. Over the past 150 years, the wetlands have been drained, farmed, and most recently bisected by a highspeed trafficway. Haskell students and faculty led the fight against the trafficway, joined by students from the nearby University of Kansas (KU), delaying its construction for over 25 years. In the midst of an era of rapid urban development, the city of Lawrence is expanding toward, and beginning to surround the remaining wetlands. Once again, students and faculty from Haskell and KU are joining to fight this development. Through a dual-campus course, these students have joined to cross ontological boundaries, creating an artistic poster campaign to educate Lawrence community members about the current threats faced by the wetlands due to urban development. These posters serve as boundary objects, communicating the students’ and faculty members’ concerns about encroachment on the wetlands to an audience who may not see this landscape in the same way. This paper will address the creation of the poster campaign and its impact on communicating ecological concerns across ontological boundaries.

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