PLAYA is pleased to announce the participants for our 2023 Wildfire + Water: Artists and Scientists Collaborating for Change residency. These artists and scientists will spend time on the PLAYA campus and the surrounding area in October sharing and learning about land management efforts in relation to wildfire and the Chewaucan watershed. Below is more information about the participants’ background and creative or environmental focus.

Work created in response to the residency will be showcased during a community symposium on the PLAYA campus on April 27, 2024. More information about this event will be shared later in the year.


Kathleen Dean Moore, Ph.D., is a philosopher, environmental advocate, and award-winning author of more than a dozen books about our cultural and moral relation to the reeling world. Formerly Distinguished Professor at Oregon State University, Kathleen’s alarm at the climate and extinction crises led her to leave academia, in order to write and speak out about the moral urgency of action. Her former work celebrates the wet, wild world; her new work calls out for its fierce defense. Her activist books include Moral Ground, Great Tide Rising, and Bearing Witness, which makes the human rights case against fracking and climate change. The Atlantic, Orion, salon.com, Discover, Audubon, the New York Times Magazine and other sites have published her work. Kathleen has a strong interest in finding the imaginative, change-making power in the places where natural science meets ethics and the literary and musical arts. So that end, Kathleen co-founded the “Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word” at Oregon State University and its 200-year project, “Long-term Ecological Reflections.” In collaboration with concert pianist Rachelle McCabe, she wrote and narrated the film, “The Extinction Variations,” a call to conscience woven throughout a set of Rachmaninoff’s variations. Her new book, Earth’s Wild Music, revels in the music of birds, frogs, whales, and other song-makers and warns of the onrushing silence. Kathleen lives in Corvallis and in a cabin where two creeks and a bear trail meet a tidal cove in Alaska.

Dr. Katie Wollstein is an Assistant Professor of practice and Rangeland Fire Specialist with the Oregon State University Extension Fire Program. She holds a B.S. from Washington State University, M.S. from Oregon State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Idaho. Based at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC), Katie’s research includes: (1) integrating range and fire management, (2) landscape-scale planning for improved fire outcomes, and (3) enhancing social and ecological fire resilience. Katie is passionate about strategic use of rangeland management tools to influence the occurrence and outcomes of fire in the sagebrush ecosystem. Her Extension programming accordingly aims to assist ranchers, agencies, and other stakeholders in leveraging their different tools, capacities, and types of knowledge to create or maintain fire resilience in rangeland settings with multiple landownerships, values, and resource uses.

Michael Boonstra is a visual artist based in Eugene, Oregon. His creative practice shifts between drawing, photography, installation, and sculpture. He is a founding member of Gray Space, a group of Oregon artists based in the Corvallis, Eugene and Roseburg areas who came together in 2016 to develop site-based projects that foster connections between artists, places, histories, and communities. Recent awards include a Career Opportunity Grant from the Oregon Arts Commission and project funding from the Ford Family Foundation. He has been an artist in residence at Playa, Djerassi, Caldera, Pine Meadow Ranch, and the Kesey Farm. Boonstra received his BFA from the University of Michigan and his MFA from the University of Oregon. He currently teaches at Oregon State University.

Ariel Cowan is a Regional Fire Specialist for Oregon State University (OSU) Extension and serves Central and South Central Oregon. Her experience in forest ecology began at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science & Forestry and continued with her research at OSU on the impacts of fire on soil, fungi, and recovery of ponderosa pine forests. Since then, she has followed her passion for forest health and fire ecology through her work as a biologist, monitoring specialist, stewardship forester and wildland firefighter. Ariel values learning from local knowledge and aims to combine it with research findings to provide science- and place-based fire education for communities.

Kelly Yarbrough (b. Plano, TX) is an artist based in Manhattan, Kansas. Her practice is rooted in an ecosystem that includes mixed media drawing, arts administration and creating meaningful opportunities for humans to engage with their environment. She enjoys unexpected collaborations, transdisciplinary conversations, and continual learning. Kelly holds an MFA from Kansas State University, and founded the Tallgrass Artist Residency in 2016. She is a Regional Field Representative and Art & Environment specialist for the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, a facilitator for Artist INC, a trained Konza Prairie docent, and a 2021TEDx Austin College speaker.

Autumn Muir lives in Lakeview, Oregon where she brings over 20 years of experience as a Wildlife Biologist to her contracted position with the Lake County Umbrella Watershed Council. Autumn consults, secures funding, plans/designs, and manages implementation for all activities surrounding forest health and uplands restoration/enhancement.


Visual artist, writer, and storyteller Leah Wilson makes her home in Eugene, Oregon. A 2012 artist residency at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in the Oregon Cascades introduced her to ecologists working on long-term studies and field research. Attracted by the enduring focus of inquiry into a specific place, she is now an episodic lifetime artist in residence at the Andrews Forest. Elements of her relationship with the Andrews Forest and its community are evident throughout each project including Listening to the Forest, a large-scale public art installation at Oregon State University’s George W. Peavy Forest Science Center. As an embedded artist in a field research team, Wilson is currently partnering with scientists in a study of the Klamath River, a river slated for the historic simultaneous removal of four dams. This project will continue until the ecosystem stabilizes post-dam removal. Wilson’s objective is not to explain or illustrate science but to ask stronger questions to deeply know the river, to experience it from different perspectives, and to create artwork coexisting alongside science. Wilson began interweaving her passion for whitewater kayaking into her artistic process in the Sierra Nevada foothills where she created a pivotal project influenced by the environmental decision-making processes of scientists, resource managers, and special interest groups during the Federal Energy Relicensing Commission’s assessment of her local watershed. This experience and decades of wilderness exploration form the backbone that continues to inform her creative process.

Marty St. Louis is the former Manager of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) Summer Lake Wildlife Area (SLWA) from 1987 to 2020.  He retired in 2020 after a 40 year career with ODFW, with most of his time spent in the Great Basin of southeast Oregon. At SLWA, a major aspect of work and special projects was enhancement and management of wetland habitat, involvement with population monitoring for a wide variety of waterfowl and other waterbirds. These included lesser snow geese, Tule greater white-fronted geese, trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, snowy plovers, colonial nesting waterbirds, breeding shorebirds and yellow rails. During his career, wetland habitat enhancement and management to benefit a wide variety of waterbirds through water management was a major focus of his work.  In addition, he spent considerable time monitoring a wide variety of waterfowl and waterbird populations through aerial surveys across wetland basins in south central Oregon. Marty now serves as Manager of Summer Lake Irrigation District and remains heavily involved in waterfowl and other waterbird monitoring projects as a volunteer at SLWA.

Dana Reason, Ph.D  is a Canadian composer, recording artist,  musicologist, and sonic artist. Reason was part of The Space Between trio with electronic music pioneer Pauline Oliveros and is documented on over 20 commercial recordings.  She has worked  with microbiologists, Dr. Jerri Bartholomew (OSU) and Dr. Michael Baym (Harvard University), and other scientists, artists, technologists, poets and engineers, exploring sonification of data, graphic scores,  field recordings, and music, to form new interactive sound-music works, and  site-specific interactive experiences for audiences.

She is certified as a Deep Listening practitioner– a form of listening that helps us become fully aware of sounds (from the environment, to technology, to humans, and beyond ), in order to create an intentional listening practice  to make us better stewards of sustainable sonic environments,  reduce noise pollution and promote global acoustic health of the planet. In 2020,  she created the first Sound Ecology Honors College Colloquium  for Oregon State University, in hopes of fostering “sonic activism” by introducing  students from any major about the importance of  listening, sounding, and tracking noise pollution as part of a healthy citizenship in their chosen fields. Reason holds a B.Mus (McGill University), an MA in Composition (Mills College), and a PhD in Critical Studies / Experimental Practices (University of California, San Diego).  Reason is an Assistant Professor of Contemporary Music at Oregon State University. dana.reason.com

Colleen Withers is a cattle rancher, administrative contractor, and part-time Program Manager of the Lake County Umbrella Watershed Council (since 2016). As a native of Lake County since birth, Colleen is deeply connected to this landscape and passionately participates in the restoration, enhancement, and conservation of natural resources. As conversations regarding the Chewaucan Basin spread, Colleen also serves as co-chair of the Chewaucan Watershed Collaborative (CWC) as well as participates within a diverse, state-wide partnership focusing on water management in the Chewaucan Basin. Colleen and her husband Matt (also a member of the CWC) make their home at the base of Slide Mountain where they are raising their daughters Tylee (5) and Taryn (2). Tylee and Taryn are the 8th generation of live and work on the Withers Ranch.

Nancy Floyd is a visual artist whose interests include the aging female body, the passage of time, barren landscapes, and trees. She has received numerous grants and awards including a 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2019 International Center of Photography / GOST Books First Photo Book Award, a 2018 Aaron Siskind Photography Fellowship and a 2014 John Gutmann Photography Fellowship. In 2021, Floyd’s 39-year self-portrait series, Weathering Time, was published by the International Center of Photography and GOST books. In 2021 the book was longlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize, London/Frankfurt and shortlisted for the Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation First PhotoBook Award, New York/Paris. In 2020 the work was featured in the New Yorker Photobooth and i-D Magazine. Floyd’s artwork is in the collection of the Center for Creative Photography (Tucson, AZ), the High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA), Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL), Lightwork (Syracuse, NY), and in numerous private collections. Floyd holds a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin, an MA from Columbia College Chicago, and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. She is Emerita Professor in the Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design at Georgia State University in Atlanta and lives in Bend, Oregon.


Ron Larson, PhD, has always loved being in and around water and therefore it’s natural that he likes lakes. Having grown up along the Oregon coast, Ron wanted to be a marine biologist. After completing a PhD in marine sciences in Canada, Ron did a post-doc in Florida, where he used submersibles to study deep-sea animals. Later, Ron took a job with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Georgia, then Mississippi, and finally in Klamath Falls, where he retired in 2014. His work with the USFWS focused on water development and endangered species, work that was both challenging and interesting. Ron’s hobbies include birding and photography, and travel. Ron’s research interests include the ecology of waterbirds, especially rails and bitterns, and shorebirds. Ron is currently working with a group of scientists who are studying the effects of climate change on Great Basin lakes. Ron is a board member of the Oregon Lakes Association. He is also on the board of the Klamath Basin Audubon Society where he is the presentation coordinator. Ron and his wife Kathy live in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Bay Area artist Linda Gass is best known for her intricately stitched paintings about climate change, water, and land use. Her birds-eye view landscapes blend painting on silk with quilting and embroidery techniques to highlight the human marks on the landscape. She also works in public art, community engaged land art installation, and glass. Inspired and informed by historical and scientific research, Linda’s work uses beauty to make the serious and difficult nature of her subject matter more accessible with a goal to inspire awareness and action. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including the Museum of Craft and Design, Oakland Museum, Bellevue Art Museum, and the US Embassy in Moscow. Linda’s work has been written about in American Craft, The San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, National Geographic’s All Over the Map, Museum Quality: Exploring Art Quilts, and The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography. Her work is in public and private collections including the International Quilt Museum, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, UCSF Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and the Kapor Center for Social Impact. Awards include the prestigious Fleishhacker Foundation Eureka Fellowship, the Silicon Valley Creates Artist Laureate, and the Belle Foundation Artist Grant. Gass maintains a studio at The Alameda Artworks in San Jose and when she’s not making art or championing environmental causes, you can find her backpacking, camping, and hiking in the wilderness areas of the West where she finds much of the inspiration for her work.

Tess Baker was born and raised in Paisley on her family’s fourth-generation cattle ranch. After graduating from Paisley High School, she attended Oregon State University to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business Management while competing as a varsity member and captain of the Women’s Rowing Team. Upon graduation she began work as a Relationship Manager for Northwest Farm Credit Services, primarily providing lending services to customers in Eastern Oregon, while residing in Pendleton. She recently returned to Paisley where she works as the Ranch Operations Specialist for the ZX Ranch and helps with her husband’s hay contracting business. She is a member of the Chewaucan Watershed Collaborative and spends much of her time participating in water and natural resource discussions centered around the Chewaucan Basin. She is also a member of the Lake County Umbrella Watershed Small Grants Team, a board member for the Oregon Agricultural Trust and a contractor for the Lakeview and Fort Rock Soil & Water Conservation Districts. Tess is a huge proponent of the symbiotic relationship between wildlife and working lands.

Maddi Bacon is a conservationist, storyteller, and artist. They have spent the past several years working seasonally for conservation corps, National Parks and National Forests, which has been the source of much inspiration for their work. Their art takes the form of many mediums including, painting, animation, and comics.

Andrew Myers is an Oregon based visual artist and educator who explores the concepts of instinct, extinction, isolation and the conservation and preservation of wild places and creatures in work that is drawing-based with elements of installation, printmaking, sculpture and animation. He received his undergraduate art degree from Eastern Oregon University and an MFA from Portland State University. Myers is a two-time recipient of the Career Opportunity Grant from the Oregon Arts Commission and the Ford Family Foundation. Notable exhibitions have been presented by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene OR, Duplex Gallery in Portland OR, Soil Gallery in Seattle WA, Rodgers Gallery at Willamette University, Fairbanks Gallery at Oregon State University, RISD ISB Gallery in Providence RI and the PM Bohúň Gallery in Liptov, Slovakia. He has been awarded funded artist residencies at Playa at Summer Lake, Oak Spring Garden Foundation and Pine Meadow Ranch Center for Arts and Agriculture including an OAC Golden Spot Award at Caldera Arts. He currently teaches at Oregon State University.

Bios and Photos coming soon..

Jesse Morris- BLM Fire Mitigation Specialist