Dune Drawings

Maintaining The Mythic

Dune Drawings
Project: Public Art Project in collaboration with Delaware State Parks, Past Present Projects and Curator, Zindzi Harley
Location: Cape Henlopen State Park
Material: Duralar, pastel, charcoal, American Beachgrass, time
Videography & photography: Jess Benjamin

“The dunes of Cape Henlopen are a living landscape. Covered in coastal plants and grasses, these ever-shifting sand dunes create and sustain life. The species that builds and shapes the dunes is called American Beach Grass. Each beach grass plant extends roots and shoots called rhizomes that interconnect underground. The grasses depend on wind and sand to supply nutrients and stimulate rhizome growth, which strengthens the dunes. It is this collaborative system of grasses, wind, and sand that inspired the series of artworks [below].”

—Heather Moqtaderi

Dune Drawings was supported and made possible by the Puffin Foundation, Past Presentation Projects, and Delaware State Parks.

Dune Drawings Process

“In January 2023, Monroe Isenberg set out to make collaborative drawings with American Beach Grass at Cape Henlopen. He set up a makeshift art studio in one of the nearby camping cabins. There he applied charcoal and pastels to sheets of semi-translucent film, which he staked above patches of grass. At that point, the creative work was up to the wind, sand, and grasses. The artworks on view represent the “brushstrokes” of beach grass against Isenberg’s prepared film sheets. Depending upon wind conditions, these range from subtle to dramatic.

This project was undertaken under the guidance of Delaware State Parks biologists and programming staff. Great care was taken to leave the environment undisturbed. This is an opportunity to honor the creative potential of this unique coastal environment through an artistic intervention.

Isenberg’s residency was organized by Past Present Projects, whose work brings contemporary art into historic spaces. This installation will be presented in a historic barrack building at Fort Miles, a military site created to fortify the Delaware coast from invasion during World War II. The purpose of Fort Miles connects to the important work of American Beach Grass at Cape Henlopen–to fortify the coast. Isenberg’s installation of collaborative drawings in this space amplifies the significance of American Beach Grass as a creative species that protects the coastline.”

—Heather Moqtaderi

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