Sarah Newton

These drawings come from a project I’ve begun this year involving the 500 mile trail planned to run the circumference of the entire San Francisco Bay, of which currently about 350 miles have been built. This completed distance is not a continuous length but is separated by gaps where obstacles block access.

I began attempting to walk the unbuilt trail sections as close as was possible to the planned route of the trail although in many places access is impossible. These drawings included here are of the discernible endpoints of the trail sections where they hit the construction sites, industry, and restricted areas that prevent the trail from completing the circuit. Many of those obstacles, like airports, petroleum storage tanks, power stations, are linked directly to the future changes that could imperil their own landscape.

It is a marginal zone here, where industries and people are pushed out to the edges of the populated areas to face away from the cities and suburbs. Below the power plants, airports, trailer parks, jails, concrete yards and other urban outliers standing near the water's edge are salt ponds and canals, houseboats in hidden marinas, power lines running through the marshes. It is also a marginal zone of course in that it is the very edge of the ocean; fragile, constantly changing, holding a mixed slurry of debris and life, and will be the shifting margin where people soon will see the drastic longer-term effects of our hand on the environment.

The drawings are beautiful but ordinary, the landscapes unremarkable but drawn as if they could be monumental. There is a pull of optimism in the idea of the trail, and maybe a hint of futility when I think about its possible future - if the water begins to wash at the trail before it is finished it will in fact become a very particular kind of monument.


For more information about Sarah Newton, please visit her website.