Local Research Model

At present, the Harrison Studio, the Nevada Museum of Art, and the 9,000-acre Sagehen Creek Research Station of the University of California are engaged in and committed to a 50-year long research project (“the Project”) that is a work of art, a work of science, a work of bio-regional planning, and a work that calls for policy change. Therefore, the Project will instantiate the type of work that the Center will generate, i.e., work that is revelatory to observers and participants.

The Project is fundamentally a hybrid effort; multi-layered and cognizable by different disciplines, wherein what each interested discipline may be perceived as a foreground. Furthermore, by hybrid, we mean not only a form that is extremely complex in its manifestation, but also has an educational function, both at university levels and to the public, and it is in this sense that is the Center’s mission is designed in such a way that its outreach will both deepen public engagement and inform public policy.


The Center will apply the Project test on the ground the concept that the Harrison Studio has been working with for the past 5 years. The Project will be designed to answer the following question, posed earlier, on the ground: Are there ecologically available responses that will, in good part, replace the value provided by disappearing glaciers to river systems and the human cultures they support?


The methodology to find early probable answers to this question and related questions at a manageable scale will include these aspects:

  1. To establish a transect from the highest point in the Sagehen watershed, dropping 2,700 ft over a 6-mile span to the outfall of the Sagehen Creek into the lake. The transect (see map) is designed to touch all major ecotomes: meadow, riverine, forest types and shrublands.
  2. Prior to precise evaluation on the ground it is estimated that approximately 40-50 site variations will be found over the 6 mile transect.
  3. On each particular site, two wood frames will be set down that are collectively the size of a tennis court, although shaped according to the nature of the site.
  4. One tract will be left alone, the other tract will be a test site for some aspect of an as yet to be determined species palette. The species palette will be designed to accept warming, intermittent heavy rains and drought. It will be continually reevaluated over the research period for its capability to hold back erosion, enhance topsoil and to function in a fire-tolerant manner, above all, the intention is that such a palette will enhance the sponge dynamics in the earth in such a way that the earths, as far as possible, will hold and release the waters, once supplied by snow pack and glacial melt, to river and stream.
  5. Toward this end, research monies are being sought to enable funding the team of scientists and the artist group to begin this work. 6. As the experiment begins to take place, a 6-mile path will be established, an ongoing changing narrative will be designed, informed in good part by that which is discovered.
  6. The work of the path as it moves through the frame sites on a 6-mile trajectory is complex and will function in a hybrid manner insofar as it will be designed as a scientific experiment, an educational experiment to inform diverse communities, to have a powerful physical presence. The physical work on the ground will be associated with a lucid poetic narrative designed to change in response to new information and to have a feedback into the museum as well as to train students.

Therefore, the research model of the Project is a 50-year program, which will require several generations of artists/scientists/thinkers to bring to a useful conclusion. We, the principals of the Harrison Studio, have invented the Center for the most part to enact the ideas thus far expressed. However, we also envision the Center as a legacy process and expect to begin a discussion on how the Center will continue and how new leadership will be trained. We, the present principals of the Harrison Studio, expect to begin the transfer of leadership within the next four or five years.